Renewable Overview

A brief overview of some renewable technologies are given below.

Solar PV

Solar PV is perhaps the best known renewable technology. It was actually first invented as early as 1860, since then the technology has come on leaps and bounds and the last 40 years, especially, have seen a dramatic decrease in the cost of solar PV at the same time as an increase in efficiencies causing them to become a cheap and reliable technology. The size of the system required depends on your needs and your building.

A typical household can meet all of their energy needs with a 3.5kw system (costing between £4000 – £6000) and with an average annual saving of around £800/year.

Solar Thermal

Solar water heating systems capture the heat from the Sun and use it to heat up water for use in the home.

A Typical system will cost around £3000, provides heating and hot water and can save around £300 per year

Wind

Wind turbines harness the power of the wind to turn a generator, a wind turbine’s output depends greatly on your location but for guidance A 1.5-kW wind turbine will meet the needs of a home requiring 300 kWh per month in a location with a 14 MPH annual average wind speed.

This size of system costs £1500 – £3000.

Heat Pumps

Heat pumps use energy in the ground to deliver heating and hot water. to the home. They work using gas expansion, similar to a fridge but takes advantage of this principle for heating rather than cooling.

As a rule of thumb, a ground-source system is likely to cost about £1000 per installed kilowatt (kW).

Written by TreeThinker

Passionate about the Earth and those who inhabit it. An engineer (BEng (Hons), MSEE) from Oxfordshire, UK, specialising in designing for a sustainable future. A member of the Society of Environmental Engineers and a keen environmental advocate who volunteers for several grass roots sustainability groups. I work full time as a project manager for a renewable energy company based in Oxford and also run ‘TreeThinker’ (www.treethinker.org); a business converting previous pasture land into a rich permaculture farm growing produce for sale locally as well as providing education on organic and permaculture techniques. I deliver workshops on sustainable living, including building renewable energy technologies, as well as workshops for schools discussing 'Energy as a resource' amongst other topics. I am qualified in ‘Information, advice and guidance’ (level 4) and experienced at teaching practical skills. I'm also a keen cyclist and have a love of wordplay - writing a blog on etymology (www.etymologyotd.com).

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