Time to explore the benefits of renewable energy technology

INSTALLING renewable technology for heating or electricity can lead to greater savings on energy bills and extra income as a result of the energy generated.

But what is renewable energy?

Renewable energy is generated from natural resources such as the sun, wind and water, using technology which ensures that the energy stores are naturally replenished.

Instead of buying energy from suppliers, renewables technology – also called micro generation and lo carbon technology – can be installed to generate your own.

What are the benefits of installing renewables?

Among the good reasons to use renewables are that you will be:

  • Making use of secure and local resources
  • Reducing dependence on non-renewable energy
  • Helping to reduce the production of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases
  • Creating new jobs in renewable energy industries
  • Reducing energy bills – in some cases income can be generated by selling surplus energy back to the energy provider 

How do I generate my own electricity?

There are various technologies available – such as solar panels – for generating your own electricity.

Solar panels: Also known as photovoltaics (PV), solar panels capture the sun’s energy using photovoltaic cells. These cells don’t need direct sunlight to work as they can still generate some electricity on a cloudy day. The cells convert the sunlight into electricity which can be used to run household appliances and lighting.

The benefits of solar electricity

  • Cut your electricity bills. Sunlight is free so once you’ve paid for the initial installation, your electricity costs will be reduced.
  • Get paid for the electricity you generate. The government’s Feed-in Tariff scheme pays you for the electricity you generate – even if you use it.
  • Sell electricity back to the grid. If your system is producing more electricity than you need, you can sell the surplus back to the grid through the Feed-in Tariff scheme.
  • Cut your carbon footprint. Solar electricity is green renewable energy and doesn’t release any harmful carbon dioxide or other pollutants. A typical solar PV system could save nearly two tonnes of carbon per year.

Solar tiles: These designed to be used in place of ordinary roof tiles. A system made up of solar tiles will typically cost about twice as much as an equivalent panel system. Solar tile systems are not normally as cost-effective as panel systems and are usually only considered where panels are not considered appropriate for aesthetic or planning reasons.

Costs, savings and financial support for solar

England, Scotland and Wales: A 4kWp system can generate around 3,800 kilowatt hours of electricity a year in the south of England – that’s the same amount of electricity as it takes to turn the London Eye 50 times. It will save nearly two tonnes of carbon dioxide every year. A 4kWp system in Scotland can generate about 3,200 kilowatt hours of electricity a year – that’s the same amount of electricity as it takes to turn the Falkirk Wheel 2,100 times. It will save more than a tonne-and-a-half of carbon dioxide every year.

The average domestic solar PV system is 4kWp and costs £5,000-£8,000, including VAT at 5 per cent.

Where to start with a renewables systems

Ensure your property is as energy efficient as it can be: This will help you get the most out of your new system. Think about insulating your property wherever you can and using your appliances, lighting and water more efficiently.

​​Find out the options for renewable technology: Some technologies have specific requirements for installation. For instance, solar PV and solar thermal depends on the way your roof faces.

Be clear on what you want to achieve: This will influence which technology is most appropriate.. Many people want to save money and reduce their emissions and it is becoming more possible to achieve both. Once you have thought about which technology would best suit your property and your needs, start to research the options in more detail. Weigh up the products that are available, their costs, the size of systems and any special requirements for installation.