Renewable energy comes from natural resources, such as the sun, wind, water, and geothermal heat. These sources are renewable because they can be replenished over time.
Renewable energy is the energy of the future and switching means that you lead the smart and sustainable energy transition.
What is a renewable energy source?
Renewable energy source means that the energy cannot be exhausted. It means that the energy is sustainable on its own, similar to energy from the sun. Alternative energy is a common term associated with renewable energy.
What isn’t a renewable energy source?
Non-renewable energy sources refer to those energy sources that are not infinite. These energy sources can be exhausted, like coal. Another disadvantage is that these sources emit other gasses such as carbon dioxide.
Releasing other gasses into the atmosphere contributes to global warming and climate change. Using wood instead of burning coal is a better alternative. Wood comes from sustainably managed trees, a renewable source of energy.
Although burning wood is more complex, you can make by-products such as wood pellets from the wood processing industry and recycle waste. Compressed biomass fuels also produce more energy compared to logs. A significant concern is burning wood also releases gas particles into the atmosphere.
Some of the advantages of using renewable sources of energy include:
- Cutting down your electricity bills – Once you have already budgeted for the purchase and installation of your renewable energy system, you will be able to start recouping the costs. You become less reliant on the national grid, and your energy bills massively reduce.
- You can also be paid for the electricity that you generate. The government can reimburse you for your electricity even if you also use it. If you can generate enough electricity to export, you also receive an additional payment from the tariff scheme.
- A crucial benefit of switching to renewable sources is reducing your carbon footprint. The green, renewable sources do not emit or release gasses and other pollutants into the atmosphere. If more people adopt green energy sources, we could save up to 2 tonnes of carbon per year.
Opting for renewable energy sources for your home can reduce or even eliminate your bills. The government’s tax incentives also make it more cost-effective to install your system. Here are some of the ways you could power up your home with renewable energy.
**Note: Only a small proportion of current housing stock would be suitable for a renewable energy source because of orientation and design of the development. However from 2025 any new properties built will need to incorporate one or more forms of renewable energy systems which will mean more thoughtful designs.
This is the most common and widely adopted method. You could install solar panels at the top of your roof or even in your back garden (orientation dependant). The panels would be able to harness the energy from the sun and heat the temperature of the liquid in the panels.
Depending on the orientation and latitude of the panels, they can generate ten or more watts of power per square foot. Depending on your energy consumption, a few square feet of solar panels should be able to support all your energy needs.
It doesn’t have to be sunny for the panels to generate energy. They, however, create more energy during sunny days. You can also consider installing solar shingles if your current roof is nearing the end of its lifespan.
The standard solar panels are mounted on top of the roof. The shingles take the place of the roof tiles. The major disadvantage with solar panels is that they only generate energy during the day. You always have to have an alternative power source in case anything happens.
This energy source uses water flowing downhill to generate electricity. It is more accessible if you live close to a water body such as a river. You can divert some of the streams to flow through a turbine and power your home.
There are numerous ways to go about this, and you will want to find the largest vertical distance that the water will travel. You can then divert the direction the water is flowing to go through a turbine in a controlled manner.
The power generated depends on the amount of water and the vertical distance. You will require the expertise of a professional to install this system. Hydro is continuous and stable; you will always receive the same input regardless of day or night.
Wind turbines are not for the big open farms in open spaces. Smaller wind turbines are available for homes. They generate electricity by the wind turning the blades, which drives the internal turbine and creates power.
At times the turbines can produce a lot of noise. Depending on the size you have installed, they also take up a lot of space. Some of the local laws and zoning regulations may forbid the installation of wind turbines in residence.
Despite this, wind power is a precious asset. The energy generated is more stable than solar. A good-sized turbine can also generate enough energy for all your needs. The wind might be a better renewable investment than solar, depending on where you reside.
Solar Water Heating
Solar power does not necessarily have to generate electricity. You can make use of the power to heat your home. Solar water heaters use the energy from the sun to heat a reserve of water. The heated water is then pumped through your radiators or out of your showerheads or faucets.
This system is much cheaper than electricity or gas since you use heat directly from the sun. They are also much easier to install compared to solar panels. There are a variety of solar panels in the market. It would be best to weigh their advantages and disadvantages before purchasing. This is to ensure you choose what works best for you.
Air Source Heat Pump
Air source heat pumps are used to generate renewable energy by absorbing heat from the air outside into an indoor space such as an office or a home. They work similarly to refrigerators that are absorbing heat and transferring it to another channel.
Air source heat pumps also have a high seasonal coefficient of performance, which measures heat pump performance considering varying air temperatures throughout the year.
Ground Source Heat Pumps
A ground source heat pump consists of a series of pipes, also referred to as ground loops, that lead to a plant room inside of the home. A ground source heat pump can be used to replace a boiler in heating your home and for providing hot water.
Pipe loops buried beneath the surface of your garden carry a water and antifreeze mixture that absorbs ground heat at low temperatures, gently warming the liquid within the pipes. This liquid then moves to the heat pump and passes through an exchanger, also referred to as an evaporator, where it then heats up a refrigerant liquid that turns into a gas at the appropriate temperature.
Biomass systems produce hot water and heat for your home. They do this by burning organic materials such as wood pellets and logs. The carbon emitted is low and can be easily absorbed by the trees in the environment. Biomass is also applicable in businesses since it reduces carbon emissions and significantly contributes to the environment.
Perhaps you are not looking to power up your entire home with renewable energy. Installation of the systems can be pretty costly, and maybe it is not feasible. You can still partly power part of your home with a renewable source such as a solar oven. Great for hotter countries, not necessarily UK climate.
Ovens consume quite a bit of electricity. You can, however, use the sun to heat your food. Solar panels trap sunlight and use the energy to heat the food. You can build your solar oven or buy an already built one. Solar panels are pretty advantageous since they work even in a power outage.
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