Search Our Site:  Exact phrase?

Renewable Energy Technology

There are two sources of energy: fossil fuels and renewable sources.  Renewable energy sources such as wind or solar can be mechanically transferred into usable energy and they can also be applied passively. 

Passive solar design is concerned with the initial orientation and positioning of a new house. Something that most of us have no influence over as we live in existing housing. However, we can tap into the power of passive solar through the appropriate use of any south-facing rooms. Conservatories are best placed on this side, although attention has to be paid to shading and ventilation to prevent overheating. In the winter, conservatories act as a buffer zone between the cold outside space and the warm indoors.  Passive ventilation is something that we do automatically - opening windows and doors or can be a system designed into a property to draw the air through the property usually through stacks. For effective passive ventilation a cross-airflow has to be encouraged. This is done by opening windows on the opposite sides and or different levels of the house.

Solar Technology: There are typically two types of technology.

Solar Water Heating also referred to as solar thermal, is the most common solar technology used in the UK. Solar panels are mounted on the south-facing side of the roof and plumbed into the hot water cylinder. This technology may be eligable for Renewable Heat Incentive payment.

Photovoltaics (PV) produce electricity and can be roof or surface mounted, preferably on south side of the house. They can be used as a façade, sun shading devices, roof mounted (panel) or roof integrated (solar roof tiles). PVs can be connected to the grid through two-way meter with the option to sell excess electricity to the energy supplier. In rural areas or on boats for example they are used to charge stand-alone batteries. Both technologies are almost entirely maintenance free due to advances in the development of the self-cleaning glass.  To find out if your home is suitable for photovoltaics there are online programmes which can help you assess its suitability. Upfront costs reduced significantly in the last few years and the Feed in Tariff has also reduced.  The Feed In Tariff guarantees a minimum price for the electricity generated by the system and therefore helps to pay back the installation costs.

Sun Pipes are reflective tubes or pipes fitted to the roof channelling light to where is needed. More efficient sun pipes are fitted with a daylight sensor and a light fitting which can be turned on when daylight conditions are poor.

Ground Source Heat Pump utilises the heat stored in the ground and provides space heating ideally through the use of under floor heating system. There are two options: slinky (coiled pipe) laid approximately 2m under ground; or deep bore hole. This technology may be eligable for a Renewable Heat Incentive payment.

Solar Garden Lights and Other Gadgets - when thinking solar it doesn’t always have to be a big scale project. Garden lights, calculators, chargers, radios and many other gadgets are now available.

Ground and Air Source, Wood and Wind

Ground Source Heat Pump utilises the heat stored in the ground and provides space heating. There are 2 main types : slinky (coiled pipe) laid approximately 2m underground; or a deep bore hole.  This technology is eligible for a Renewable Heat Incentive payment.

Air Source Heat Pump  The pump works on the same principle as your fridge (or ground source heat pump). It extracts warmth from the outside air, at temperatures as low as -150C. This technology is eligible for a Renewable Heat Incentive payment.

Wood Burning Stoves or Biomass Boilers are an efficient way of space heating using wood chips, pallets or logs. The Wood Fuel Directory provides a database of wood fuel suppliers. These technologies may be eligible for a Renewable Heat Incentive payment.

Wind Turbines can either be mounted on masts or roofs. It is important to note that for a steady electricity generation an undisturbed, constant and fast (at least 4m/s) wind speed is needed. Although advertised for urban settings their best use is in remote, rural areas or boats. The technology may be eligable for Feed in Tariff payment.

Financial Support

Although the costs of renewable technologies are coming down as they become more widespread, most of the technologies mentioned in this section are still fairly expensive. There are some avenues of funding that might make the installation of any of the renewable technologies less of a burden.  

Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) is a UK Government scheme to encourage uptake of renewable heat technologies amongst householders, communities and businesses through the provision of financial incentives.  

The domestic Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) will pay people for the green heat they generate for their homes, offering homeowners payments to offset the cost of installing low carbon systems in their properties. The scheme is open to home owners, social and private landlords, and people who build their own homes. The guaranteed payments are made quarterly over seven years and the scheme is designed to bridge the gap between the cost of fossil fuel heat sources and renewable heat alternatives.Technologies in the scheme include biomass heating systems, ground or water source heat pumps, air to water heat pumps, and solar thermal panels.

The Non-Domestic Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI)  provides financial incentives to increase the uptake of renewable heat. For the non-domestic sector broadly speaking it provides a subsidy, payable for 20 years.

The scheme is open to the non-domestic sector including industrial, commercial, public sector and not-for-profit organisations with eligible installations, and to producers of biomethane. In the context of the scheme, a non-domestic installation is a renewable heat unit that supplies large-scale industrial heating to small community heating projects. This includes for example small businesses, hospitals and schools as well as district heating schemes such as where one boiler serves multiple homes. 

 Feed In Tariffs (FIT) scheme was introduced on 1 April 2010. It is intended to encourage deployment of additional small-scale (less than 5MW) low-carbon electricity generation, particularly by organisations, businesses, communities and individuals that have not traditionally engaged in the electricity market. This will allow many people to invest in small-scale low-carbon electricity, in return for a guaranteed payment from an electricity supplier of their choice for the electricity they generate and use as well as a guaranteed payment for unused surplus electricity they export back to the grid.

How green is your home? Explore our interactive house for money saving tips and suggestions.