Installing your own renewable energy
Renewable energy is energy which comes from natural resources such as sunlight, wind and geothermal.
- Solar Thermal
- Solar Photovoltaics (PV)
- Heat Pumps
- Wind Turbines
- Permitted Development and Microgeneration
- Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS)
- Renewable Heat Incentive
- Feed-in Tariffs
Renewable energy provides 18% of total electricity generation worldwide. Some countries get most of their power from renewables, including Iceland and Paraguay (100%), Norway (98%) and Brazil (86%). Generating energy from renewable sources can help reduce our dependence on non renewable sources like fossil fuels which take millions of years to replenish. They also produce much less carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouses gases, a major cause of climate change.
Each year, every square metre of the British Isles receives 60% of the solar radiation found at the equator. Solar collectors do not require direct sunshine to work, but use radiated light.
Solar water heating absorbs the sun's energy and converts it to heating hot water. The system works alongside your existing water heating system. During summer months the system can provide all the hot water needed by a household. It can also be used to heat larger applications including swimming pools.
Solar Photovoltaics (PV)
Photovoltaic systems use cells to convert solar radiation into electricity. The PV cell consists of one or two layers of a semiconducting material, usually silicon. When light shines on the cell it creates an electric field across the layers, causing electricity to flow. The greater the intensity of the light, the greater the flow of electricity.
Individual PV cells are connected together to form a module. Modules are then linked and sized to meet a particular load (need). The result is a PV array. A PV array supplies power to the building it is fitted on. If the building has mains electricity, any excess electricity can be exported to the grid.
A heat pump is a device which moves heat energy from one place to another and from a lower to a higher temperature and can be used for both heating and cooling. Heat pumps are economical to run and can be powered by renewable electricity.
You probably own a heat pump without realising it - a refrigerator is a type of heat pump!
There are different types of heat pumps - ground, air and water source heat pumps, heat is collected from different sources. The two more popular heat pumps are ground and air
A ground source heat pump collects heat using ground loops which can either be buried in a borehole or laid in trenches, this option is cheaper but requires more ground surface. A water/anti-freeze solution is pumped around the loop in a plastic pipe.
The type and length of ground loop and hole will depend on the space available and the ground conditions.
An air source heat pump absorbs heat from the outside to heat buildings. There are two types of air source heating systems. Air to air systems provide warm air, which is circulated to heat the building. The other type, air to water, heat water to provide heating through radiators or an under floor system. Heat pumps are a similar size to a fridge.
Please visit the Heat Pumps Planning Permission page on the Planning Portal
Wind turbines harness the wind to produce energy. When the wind blows, the rotor blade stops a percentage of the wind. That percentage is converted into energy. Wind turbines use the wind's forces to turn aerodynamic blades that turn a rotor which creates electricity. Open, high, flat areas are best suited to wind turbines, but they can also be used to provide domestic wind power on a smaller scale than those you see dotting the landscape.
Please visit the Wind Turbines Planning Permission on the Planning Portal to view the latest permitted development rights which came into force on 1 December 2011.
Wind turbines should only be considered if the average wind speed is at least 5 metres per second. You can get an indication of this by using the Energy Saving Trust's domestic wind speed prediction tool.
The Energy Saving Trust website also has information on renewable technologies.
Permitted Development and Microgeneration
Use the link to the document below to view legislation on Permitted Development and microgeneration.
- Read The Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (Amendment) (England) Order 2011 No. 2056
Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS)
The Scheme is focused on ensuring the quality of renewable technology installations and products. Both installers and products must be accredited under the MCS to be eligible for either the Feed-in Tariff or the Renewable Heat Incentive.
If you are considering a product which produces heat ie biomass, a heat pump or solar hot water, you may be eligible for the Renewable Heat Incentive
Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI)
Non Domestic RHI
The Non-Domestic Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) is a government environmental programme that provides financial incentives to increase the uptake of renewable heat by businesses, the public sector and non-profit organisations.
Eligible installations receive quarterly payments over 20 years based on the amount of heat generated.
For further information, please visit the Ofgem Non-Domestic Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) website.
The Domestic Renewable Heat Incentive (Domestic RHI) is a government financial incentive to promote the use of renewable heat. Switching to heating systems that use eligible energy sources can help the UK reduce its carbon emissions and meet its renewable energy targets.
For further information, please visit the Ofgem Domestic Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) website.
Feed-in Tariffs (FIT)
The Feed-in Tariffs (FIT) scheme is a government programme designed to promote the uptake of small-scale renewable and low-carbon electricity generation technologies.
Introduced on 1 April 2010, the scheme requires participating licensed electricity suppliers to make payments on both generation and export from eligible installations.
For further information please visit the Ofgem Feed-in Tariffs (FIT) website.