We are finally coming to terms with the fact that the world’s
climate is changing. It is generally accepted that man is
playing no small part in this change due to so-called greenhouse
gases being emitted from a variety of different sources.
One of the main culprits is the use of fossil fuels both
in the way we heat and light our homes, and on a larger scale
through industry. It is time to look more seriously at renewable
energies as the next industrial revolution, and at least attempt
to slow down the process, even if it is too late to halt it
completely or reverse the effects.
Fortunately, the DTI funded renewable energy grant scheme
for homeowners and communities in partnership with the £10
million Clear Skies initiative has meant that homeowners and
communities have the opportunity to become more familiar with
renewable energy. Homeowners can obtain grants between £500
and £5000, while community organisations can receive
up to £100,000.
|The technologies supported
under this initiative are:
||Solar Water Heating
||Ground Source Heat Pumps
||Automated Wood Pellet Stoves
||Wood fuel boilers
How do these technologies work?
Solar power is generated through solar panels, usually fitted
on a building’s roof. They use the heat from the sun
to heat water or another liquid, which passes through the
panel. This liquid is then fed to a heat source like a hot
water tank from where it helps to provide hot water or central
heating to a building. Modern panels are very sensitive and
rely on light from the sun as well as heat, so even on a cloudy
day, as long as there is daylight, the panels will work.
Wind Power is generated through a wind turbine, which converts
the energy from the wind directly into electricity. This electricity
can either link to the national grid or be used to charge
Hydro power is created in a similar way to wind power, except
that instead of the wind driving the turbine, water does.
In order to do so, it needs to be flowing quite rapidly, so
for this reason, most hydro power is produced in hilly or
mountainous areas. Of all renewable energy technologies, it
is the most consistent at providing electricity.
Ground source heat pumps draw heat from the ground and can
be used to heat a house. As a pump and a compressor are needed
to remove heat from one side of the circuit and deliver it
to the other, and the pump obviously needs electricity to
run, users of this system could subscribe to a green tariff
scheme, which promotes the use of renewable energies by power
Automated wood pellet stoves were first introduced in the
United States in the 1980s, where over half a million have
been installed. They are now available in the UK. Pellet stoves
have many of the advantages of fossil fuel heating systems
but without the associated environmental damage.
||Temperature and timer controls
||Fans that distribute warm air around
||High efficiencies (up to 90%)
In addition, pellet stoves feature a hopper to hold enough
fuel for 1 to 3 days and an ash pan that only needs to be
emptied between once a month and once a year (depending on
the model and the frequency of use) so they are much more
convenient to use than a traditional open fire or stove.
Wood fuelled boiler systems must comprise the main heating
system of the house. They can be run on logs, wood chips or
wood pellets, but log burning stoves, even those used for
heating, such as AGAs are excluded.
For more information on this initiative, visit the Clear
Skies website at www.clear-skies.org