Category Archives: Energy

Pros and Cons of the Top Off-Grid Energy Sources

Image by elljay CC0

Image by elljay CC0

 

Guest post by Emma Metson*

Off-grid energy sources are those that are not connected to the electricity grid. They’re also called stand-alone power systems which generate electricity using renewables. Perfect examples of renewables are hydropower, solar, wind, geothermal, and biomass.

According to the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, nearly a third of the UK’s electricity between April and June was generated from renewable sources. This was a new record compared to last year at around the same period.

Accenture’s research, on the other hand, predicted that 11% of Europe would become off-grid by 2035. It may not look like much, but that’s a huge progress and a milestone in itself. That is considering how much we’ve depended on coals and fossil fuel since the industrial revolution.

Of course, only time and innovations in technologies used to generate power from these sources will decide if the prediction will come true.

Here’s a rundown of the pros and cons of the top, most popular off-grid energy sources offer.

Solar Power

Without a doubt, the energy that we get from the sun is one of the cleanest, most sustainable, and most renewable sources that we can ever find. This energy supply is so abundant that one hours worth of the sun’s energy can supply the whole requirement of the planet.

Unfortunately, we’re only able to harness .001% of this energy. A big part of the reason why this is the case is the cost that’s involved in installing solar panels, rendering it unreliable. However, these obstacles have already been surpassed in recent years.

If you’re looking to go off-grid through solar, you’d probably have to invest at least £5,000 if you have a household of at least three people. That’s a lot of money but consider this: in 2010, buying a solar system that can power the whole house would have cost you at least £15,000.

As you can see, we’re headed in the right direction to making solar more accessible.

Pros

  • It a great source of renewable energy.
  • Solar can significantly reduce utilities and in some cases, removes your dependence on mains as your power source.
  • Low maintenance.
  • Can be used for different applications.
  • Bound for further technological improvements which means you can expect more from solar power in the future.

Cons

  • The initial investment is still expensive.
  • The efficiency of solar panels is weather-dependent.
  • Solar panels need a lot of space.
  • Slightly associated with pollution especially during transportation and installation because of the greenhouse gases emitted.
  • Batteries used to store solar energy are also expensive.

Hydropower

Harnessing the gravitational force of flowing water and converting it to electricity — that’s what hydropower is all about. Electricity is produced using a downwards flow of water from higher ground.

Interestingly enough, hydropower was called ‘white coal’ due to the massive amount of energy it can produce on top of a seemingly infinite source. In fact, it is one of the oldest and cheapest methods of generating power.

The British Hydropower Association states that this energy source currently produces 17% of the world’s electricity. In addition to that, hydropower accounts for 90% of the world’s renewable energy sources.

But like anything else, hydropower has its pros and cons.

Pros

  • Clean and safe.
  • Cost-effective in the long run despite the high initial investment.
  • Flexible as hydro plants can be scaled up and down quickly depending on the energy demands.
  • Suited for industrial applications.
  • Contributes to the economic growth of remote areas

Cons

  • Contributes to methane emissions due to plants rotting in an anaerobic environment in flooded areas.
  • Ecosystem damage, specifically in wetlands. Since turbine gates are often opened intermittently, it affects the natural flow of water. This can have a significant impact on animals and plants living in the area
  • Risk of floods and droughts. Strong water currents may cause flooding and people living in the downstream area can be extremely vulnerable to this. Hydro plants risk cause droughts in the local area.
  • High upfront costs.

Wind Power

Britain has 40% of Europe’s wind resource — that’s enough to power the whole country several times over. Wind energy is clean, free, safe, and it’s something that will never get depleted.

Over the years, the technology has improved so much that both on and offshore wind power is now possible. Modern wind turbines are now able to efficiently and effectively convert wind power to electricity.

The benefits of wind power are obvious but here’s a more detailed breakdown of its pros and cons.

Pros

  • Environmentally friendly
  • Wind power can provide electricity to areas that are off-grid.
  • Technology is becoming more affordable.
  • Low maintenance and running costs.
  • Building wind turbines creates jobs.

Cons

  • The wind can sometimes be inconsistent. While it’s true that it will never run out, there’s always a chance that the wind will die down which affects or halts production.
  • Expensive installation
  • Noise pollution. Although wind energy is environmentally-friendly, a single wind turbine can be heard from hundreds of meters away. Combined with multiple turbines and the result is angry homeowners.
  • It’s a threat to wildlife like birds and bats.

Geothermal

Geothermal energy is the heat that’s generated and stored in the Earth. The most perfect and straightforward example of geothermal energy is hot springs. Nowadays this energy is being harnessed to produce electricity and provide warmth to homes.

Geothermal energy is naturally occurring in the UK. In fact, Southampton city council has been operating a geothermal power station since 1986. This provides heating for different places like the city hall, superstore, the port of Southampton, and the swimming centre.

Not only does it provide heat and electricity, but it also has cooling functions. That’s mainly because of the insulating properties of our planet. A good example is during summer where a geothermal system pulls heat from your house. It carries it to the ‘earth loop’ and deposits it to the cooler part of the earth.

Pros

  • Eco-friendly
  • It has heating and cooling functions.
  • It’s free and available almost anywhere.
  • It’s now more affordable.
  • Requires little to no maintenance

Cons

  • Although geothermal basins are widely spread, resources vary from region to region. The problem lies in the fact that this type of energy cannot be transported. This means that only those who are near the source can benefit from it.
  • Huge investments are needed to build exploration sites.
  • Can cause minor seismic activity. This happens when high-pressure water is injected into the ground to produce steam.
  • Time-consuming because a lot of research and explorations need to be done first to determine if an area is feasible.

Biomass

Biomass is organic material that comes from plants and animals. It contains stored energy that comes from the sun through photosynthesis. The chemical energy in biomass is released as heat when it is burned.

Here are some examples of biomass and their uses:

  • Animal manure and human sewage – can be converted to biogas and burned as fuel
  • Food, yard, and wood waste in the garbage – generate electricity in power plants through burning or converted to biogas in landfills.
  • Wood and wood processing wastes – burned to produce electricity and is used to heat buildings as well.
  • Crops and waste materials – burned as fuel or converted to liquid biofuels.

Pros

  • Cost effective as most materials are from leftovers from wood.
  • The carbon dioxide that’s emitted during the burning process is equivalent to the amount absorbed when growing trees.
  • It supports local economies.
  • Easy to store and produces small amounts of ash.

Cons

  • Wood pellet boilers are expensive.
  • The boilers require frequent maintenance.
  • Storage of biomass fuel needs to be considered carefully. It needs to remain dry. Otherwise, it will not burn efficiently.

Conclusion

Off-grid energy sources are indeed starting to take over in popularity from coals and fossil fuels. It will only be a matter of time before people can become truly free from grid power lines.

There is still a lot of progression to be made in renewable energy, but if what we’ve already achieved is anything to go by, we’re getting closer to greener sources.

Until then, all of us need to look at how we’re consuming energy, and ways we can lessen our environmental footprint in our homes and day to day life by using energy efficiently and wisely.

*Please note that the views are that of the author, not necessarily that of en-form.

Author Bio

Emma is a part-time property developer who loves sharing how others can make their homes amazing and eco both inside and out on her blog Fixtures and Flowers. You can chat to Emma on Twitter.

Offshore Wind Farms Are Really Booming

Image by diego_torres CC0

Image by diego_torres CC0

Guest post by Sam Brown*

In terms of renewable energy sources, there are a number of options. While solar, biomass, and geothermal technologies are all viable approaches to cleaner energy provision, wind is leading the way in innovation and investment, thanks to new offshore wind farms.

While the investment in renewable energy sources has been declining, particularly due to budget cuts in recent years, wind power is bucking this trend. In 2016, investment in new offshore wind farms grew by a staggering 40%.

This huge investment is made all the more impressive within the current political environment, with the ongoing scepticism and debate around climate change. So why are offshore wind farms booming right now?

The advantages of wind power

Wind farms are an attractive proposition to investors for a number of key reasons. The major plus point for wind, of course, lies in its green credentials as an energy source. Harvesting wind is a clean and effective way of energy generation, making good use of a natural resource that is limitless.

In addition to this headline benefit, wind power has relatively low economic and maintenance costs, and offshore wind farms in particular, are unobtrusive. We have always known about these benefits, however, so why are we seeing a sudden rise in offshore wind farm investment?

As well as the clear positives associated with wind power, there have always been a handful of technological negatives, which have hindered the effectiveness of wind farms in the past. Due to the technology not quite being at a high enough level, setting up offshore wind farms has always been expensive, which inflates the cost of this particular energy source.

In addition to this, traditional fixed turbines can only be installed at a depth of up to 40 metres – meaning they are simply not suitable for many environments. Thanks to advancements in technology, however, this issue is being resolved.

Technological developments

Thanks to amazing new technology, the previous limitations of offshore wind farms are no longer applicable.

Innovative floating turbines use an underwater ballast along with mooring lines to stay upright, meaning wind farms can now be established further from the shore and in deeper water.

While fixed turbines have a limit of 40 metres, these new floating turbines can be deployed at depths of anywhere between 100 to 700 metres.

Alongside this development, manufacturers have also been able to make larger turbines, increasing the amount of energy able to be generated thanks to a higher capacity. The first of these new floating wind farms was successfully set up off the Scottish coastline earlier this year, providing energy for over 20,000 homes.

 

The success of this initial floating wind farm opens up numerous potential locations that were previously accessible for this type of energy.

New locations, new benefits

With a range of new locations opening up thanks to this technology, wind power suddenly has a host of new benefits to boot.

In addition to greater amounts of energy able to be produced, increased accessibility and availability are major plus points for new offshore wind farms. Placing the turbines offshore also helps to reduce any aesthetic impact of wind farms too.

While the costs of these floating wind farms are high at present due to the infancy of the technology, these are set to fall over time. Thanks to this innovation, alongside increased investment, offshore wind farms are really booming.

*Please note that the views are that of the author, not necessarily that of en-form.

50 More Ways To Save Energy – Infographic

Intro by Guest Blogger: Maggie Baker*

Energy conservation efforts have made headlines over the last few years, but many people still don’t understand the importance of reducing energy consumption. Why should you make an effort to conserve energy at home? Here are some of the many benefits of living in an energy efficient home:

Lower Utility Bills

Utility companies charge customers based on the amount of energy that they consume during the month. Therefore, people who make an effort to reduce their energy use will spend less on utilities every month. How much can you save? Simply replacing traditional light bulbs with energy efficient bulbs in some of your home’s light fixtures can save you money, and if you sort out uncontrolled air leaks in your home, you’ll save even more!

Comfortable Living

Living in an energy efficient home is more comfortable than living in a home that wastes energy. Why? An energy efficient home that is properly insulated and does not have any air leaks, will be warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer. The temperature will also be consistent throughout the house, so there won’t be any rooms that are cooler or hotter than others.

Better For the Environment

Homeowners that live in an energy efficient home are doing their part to protect the environment. Reducing energy consumption allows us to save the world’s dwindling supply of natural resources and cut down on pollution. Lowering greenhouse gas emissions plays a big role in fighting the effects of climate change, which is why it’s so important now more than ever before to embrace an energy efficient lifestyle.

Are you ready to start saving energy? Fortunately, saving energy doesn’t have to be complicated. There are many different simple changes and upgrades that you can make to start saving today. Take a look at this infographic provided by Homeselfe to learn how to get started:

*Please note that the views are that of the author, not necessarily that of en-form.

 

50MoreWaystoSaveEnergy

A Guide to UK Solar Panel Grants

Image by Antranias CC0

Image by Antranias CC0

Guest post by Elena*

A quick glance around any neighbourhood in the UK will reveal many homes with solar panels in situ. They don’t work for every homeowner, but if your property has a south-facing roof, or even an east to west facing roof, you could save money on your energy bill and get paid for generating electricity. What’s not to like about that?

If the idea of installing solar panels appeals, here’s what you need to know about solar panel grants in the UK.

Solar Grants

Prior to 2010, the government handed out grants to householders who installed solar power systems. It was part of the low carbon buildings program, which proved very successful. However, these grants were replaced in April 2010 by a new system: a feed-in tariff.

Feed-In Tariffs

These days, the government no longer pays you to have solar panels, but the electricity companies do pay for you for the electricity you generate. Think of a feed-in tariff as an incentive scheme. Not only does the energy company pay you for any electricity you don’t use, but you are also paid for the electricity you do use. Even better, when you are using “free” electricity during the day, you are saving money on your energy bill. It’s a win-win situation.

en-form insights:

The downside is that government feed-in tariffs are no longer as generous as they once were. Solar panels are not as expensive to install, so feed-in tariffs were slashed by 64% in 2015. You can still save money by generating free electricity during the day, but you won’t be paid as much for your output. Homes with an EPC of E or less are not eligible for the full feed-in tariff payment.

Getting paid for the electricity you generate through solar panels used to be seen as a bit of a gold-mine by homeowners, which certainly isn’t the case any more. Nevertheless, so long as your solar panels generate a reasonable amount of electricity, you should enjoy a return on your investment.

Lock in a Good Price

It is worth noting that the feed-in tariff in place when you install your solar panels is locked in for the next 20 years. Right now, it is still cost effective for homeowners to install solar panels, but as time goes on, the government is likely to cut pay outs and, in time, eliminate them altogether.

There is a cap in place on annual feed-in tariff spending, so each quarter, the feed-in tariff is reduced. As time goes on, the potential for earning money from the feed-in tariffs will diminish, but the cost of installation will continue falling, too. Also, since any electricity you use during the day is free, you are always going to save money on your energy bills.

Solar Batteries

One method of making extra savings once the government abolishes a feed-in tariff for solar panels is to invest in a solar panel battery to store excess energy when your panels are not generating. Most homeowners don’t use all the electricity they generate, so it is sold back to the energy company. With a solar panel battery, you can use solar energy as your primary power source and save even more money.

en-form insights:

The installation of PV panels has dropped because of the FiT digression, and batteries are being viewed as they new money-maker. PV installers are asking several thousand pounds for a battery set, as such, it is unlikely to pay for itself for many years. The installers also get a kick back from the National Grid by aggregating all the batteries and controlling them at peak times saving the National Grid from having to pay for stand-by generation. Most householders are lucky if they get a share of this, we have heard that some may get about £60 a year from the battery installer who probably makes a lot more. Homeowners need to be wise when choosing how to invest in solar energy – there are good reasons for having batteries, particularly if there is a high frequency of black outs. When variable tariff electricity pricing comes in (when you pay more at peak times), that will be when batteries are really economically worthwhile.

It is worth doing the sums before you invest in solar panels, and it is probably worth seeking independent advice on such an investment. Homes need to be south-facing to generate sufficient energy and the further south you live, the more profitable solar panels become. Remember that a solar panel installation can also affect the value of your home, and not necessarily in a positive way. But, like all renewable energy, solar power is the future, and if you can’t afford to invest in solar, you could always opt for a free installation, which will still lower your energy bills.

*Please note that the views are that of the author, not necessarily that of en-form.

About the author:

Elena works for maltasothebysrealty.com and is used to advising customers on the benefits of solar panels. In a country where the sun is always shining, solar energy is a smart investment and an excellent way to save money on your energy bills.

What is a smart meter? How do I switch to one?

Smart Meters are the new generation of gas and electricity meters being rolled out across Great Britain. They will have a number of benefits, the most useful of which is that they will show you the amount of energy you use in near real time and how much you are spending in pounds and pence. It will also bring an end to estimated bills.

Every energy supplier will be providing smart meters at no extra cost to their customers between now and 2020. How soon you can get one depends on your supplier’s plans. In the Eastern Region E.on and British Gas are installing them now.

Smart meters will provide you with the information you need to work out whether you are getting the best energy deal, or if you should switch to a different tariff or supplier.

Once the national infrastructure is complete, smart meters will operate between all suppliers which will make it quicker and easier to switch.

How do I switch to a Smart Meter?

Smart Energy GB is the voice of the smart meter rollout. It’s their task to help everyone in Great Britain understand smart meters, the national rollout and how to use their new meters to get gas and electricity under control.

Smart meters are paving the way for a smarter, greener and more energy efficient future. Visit the Smart Energy GB website for further information and advice: www.smartenergygb.org

Save Energy (and Money) in your Home – 40 Amazing Tips!

Heating

Central Heating & Thermostatic Controls

  1. Turn your thermostat down by just 1 degree centigrade. This will cut 10% off your heating bill. You should normally set your central heating thermostat between 18 & 20 C. If you are not at home turn the thermostat down to a low setting such as 10 degrees centigrade just to protect your property from the effects of freezing. Cost : £0. Annual saving: up to £60
  2. Let the sunshine in. On a sunny day, opening your curtains will let warmth into your house, but when it’s colder or the sun goes down don’t forget to close them to keep that heat in. Cost : £0
  3. Keep your radiators clear. For example, don’t put a sofa in front of your radiator, because it will absorb a lot of the heat. Cost : £0
  4. If your radiators are fixed to the outside wall, put radiator panels behind them to reflect the heat back into the room.
  5. For properties with high ceilings, placing a shelf just above the radiator helps to deflect the heat into the centre of the room rather than it drifting straight up to the ceiling.
  6. Fit thermostatic controls to your radiators and a timer to your boiler to ensure heat is provided when and where it is needed.
  7. Get cosy. Wearing more jumpers, socks and slippers around the house, and putting an extra blanket on the bed means you won’t be tempted to turn the heating up.

Hot Water

  1. Most people have their hot water setting at too high a level. Set your hot water to 60 degrees centigrade. Cost : £0. Annual saving : £15 per year
  2. And dont forget to use a plug in your basin or sink to prevent a wasteful use of hot water. Particularly when washing up. Cost : £0. Annual saving £15 per year.
  3. Insulate your water tank to keep your water hot for longer.
  4. Keep your showers to less than 10 minutes – or invest in a shower monitor to keep an eye on how much hot water you’re using.

Appliances

Electric appliances

  1. Switch off electric appliances (this includes TVs, videos, stereos, computers, cordless phones, electric toothbrushes.) at the plug when not in use. Switching off by the remote control and leaving appliances on standby or on charge when not neccessary wastes energy. However, make sure your appliance does not need to be left on to operate or maintain memory functions such as a Sky box. Cost : £0
  2. Don’t forget also, to switch off lights when not in use. (It has been estimated that if everyone did this it would save enough energy to power a town like Colchester.) Cost £0
  3. Whenever you buy a new appliance, first of all make sure you need it and make sure it is suitable for your needs. If you do need to buy an appliance make sure it is an energy efficient one. An ‘A’ rated appliance tends to use only half the energy of a ‘G’ rated model.
  4. Laptops typically use 85 per cent less electricity over a year than desktop PCs. Choosing a laptop over a desktop and reducing standby could save up to £17 per year.

Electric appliances – Fridges and Freezers

  1. Check door seals. They should be able to grip a piece of paper tightly If the don’t they need replacing.
  2. Keep the fridge at 2-3 C and the freezer at -15 C . Use a fridge thermometer to check the temperature
  3. Load and unload your fridge as quickly as possible and don’t leave the fridge door open for longer than you need to.
  4. Keep the fridge away from any other heat sources such as a cooker, ideally near any outside, cooler wall
  5. Make sure the air flow at the back of the fridge is not blocked or limited.
  6. Get the feather duster out from time to time.  When dust gathers on the condenser coils at the back of your fridge, it uses more energy.
  7. Defrost the fridge regularly.
  8. Keeping them full means they don’t have to work as hard and therefore they use less energy. Empty space in your fridge or freezer wastes not only space but energy too.
  9. Don’t put hot food in the fridge, it messes up the temperature inside. Leave it to cool naturally first.

In The Kitchen – Cooking

  1. Only heat the amount of water you need. Use boiled water immediately rather than leaving it for a while and then re-boiling.
  2. Use the kettle to boil water for cooking, instead of heating a pan on the stove. It’s quicker and uses less energy.
  3. Put well fitting lids on pans.
  4. Don’t have gas flames so high they lick the sides of pans.
  5. When using an electric cooker use absolutely level bottomed pans or pots which are the correct size to cover the rings.
  6. Try using a pressure cooker. Cooking a roast chicken in a pressure cooker takes approximately half the time it would need in an oven, and it’s especially good if you like your roast falling apart. As an optional extra you can crisp it up a bit by putting it in the oven for around 15 minutes afterwards.
  7. Use the microwave instead of the oven – it cooks food quicker and so uses less energy. Microwaves often provide a much more energy efficient way of cooking food than in the oven. This is because microwave ovens use energy to directly heat your food, whereas electric ovens must also heat the air inside the oven.
  8. Heat your home with cooking. Leave the oven door open after cooking to let the heat warm your kitchen. The oven might give off enough heat for you to adjust your thermostat, a far more efficient use of that stored heat than throwing it out of your home with an extractor fan.
  9. Save time and stock up. If you’re going to use the oven, bake a few meals at a time to get the most out of having your oven on. After all, oven’s allow us to heat more than one shelf at a time so why waste your heat?

In The Kitchen – Washing

  1. Try to ensure the washing machine is full when you use it. If it isn’t use the half-load setting. If you can, do the week’s laundry in one go and put a full load into the machine.
  2. Use low temperature washes whenever possible.
  3. Hang up your laundry. Try to air – dry clothes naturally on a clothes line or clothes horse, rather than by a tumble dryer, particularly if there’s warm or windy weather. What’s more nothing smells fresher than air-dried clothes.
  4. Use ecoballs in the tumble dryer. They spread out your washing so your clothes dry quicker.
  5. As tempting as it is, don’t dry clothes on the radiators. It makes your boiler work harder than it needs to.

Other Energy Savers

  1. Use your curtains wisely. Open your curtains to let more light in instead of switching on lights. Close your curtains at dusk however to prevent heat escaping through your windows. Cost : £0. Annual saving £15 per year
  2. Stop draughts. Check out our top ten tips to preventing draughts

Stop Draughts – 10 Simple Tips

Stopping draughts can be a very easy and cost effective way to help save energy, make your home more comfortable and reduce your heating bills.

Draughts can cause heat to escape from almost everywhere in your house but particularly through windows and outside doors.

Our top 10 helpful tips are:

  1. Check the fit of all your windows and outside doors – make sure there are no gaps
  2. Fit a draught excluding flap behind your letter box and cover the keyhole
  3. Remember to insulate your loft hatch or door and fit draught-proofing around its edges
  4. Put metal or plastic draught-proofing strips around the sides of the doors
  5. Fit draught excluders to the bottoms of doors (attaching strips securely so that they don’t trip you up)
  6. Fit plastic sheeting to window frames with double-sided tape or magnetic strip, for a cost effective form of double glazing. Make sure it is easily detachable so that you can escape in the event of fire
  7. Hang heavy curtains or curtains with thermal linings. When you draw curtains, remember not to cover radiators which are under windows.
  8. Use a floor board gap filler such as DraughtEx
  9. Insert insulation boards such as Celotex under floors 
  10. Seal the edges of fittings in walls (such as cat flaps and tumble dryer hoses) with expanding foam.

IMPORTANT

Always remember to leave ventilation for gas fires, boilers and coal fires. Never block ventilators or air bricks. They are there to remove fumes. Air circulation is necessary. Kitchens and bathrooms also need ventilation to avoid excess moisture building up

What is Renewable Energy?

Renewable energy refers to power generated from a renewable source. When the energy is generated , the resource is not depleted or used up, they are naturally replenished and can either be managed so they last forever or their supply is so enormous humans can never meaningfiully deplete them. Unlike fossil fuels such as oil, coal and gas, renewable energy sources do not release C02 as a by-product into the atmosphere. As the amount of fossil fuel resources on Earth decreases it is becoming increasingly important to find and utilise alternative fuels. The main forms of renewable energy are wind, solar, water from Hydro electic  and wave power and geothermal. Examples are.-

WIND POWER. 

Air moves around the Earth because of the differences in temperature and atmospheric pressure Wind turbines harness the movement of air to produce energy.

The wind turns the blades which turn a rotor shaft; the resultant mechanical power is used to drive an electricity generator. Wind turbines are often grouped together in wind farms. Wind power has very promising potential in the UK as we live in the path of Atlantic depressions (low- pressure systems) which bring windy weather.

The UK currently has many wind farms that could be supplying 10% of the UK’s electricity by 2025.

Wind farms provide a clean source of energy, although of course it is dependent on the Wind so is not as reliable as other forms of power and some people do not like their visual impact and the fact that they can be noisy in windy conditions. Suitable locations are often in areas of scenic beauty and so careful consideration needs to be given before they can be built.

It is estimated that the UK has a very large offshore wind resource and we have many large offshore wind farms although the costs of generating energy offshore is much higher than generating onshore.

SOLAR POWER. 

Solar power is the term used to describe energy derived directly from the Sun. The Sun provides the basis of energy for all living things. Sunlight has been utilised by humans for drying crops and heating water and buildings for millions of years. Solar energy is free and will never run out. We can use solar panels to turn the Sun’s energy into useful energy. There are a number of ways to do this.

Passive Solar Heating.
Houses can be designed with large windows in the south and small windows in the north facing walls. This would allow natural light and heat from the Sun to be used to its full potential and reduce the need for electricity.
Active Solar Heating. 
Solar power can be used to heat large bodies of water mainly for domestic hot water systems but also swimming pools.
Photovoltaics.
Photovoltaics allow the direct conversion of solar radiation into an electric current by the interaction of light with the electrons in a semiconductor cell. As development in solar technology has increased it has become much cheaper and the UK is starting to invest in the technology

BIOFUELS.

This is the term used to describe plant material and animal waste which can be burnt to produce energy. It is the oldest source of renewable energy known to humans. Unlike other renewables biomass energy does release C02 but only as much as was removed through photosynthesis during the plant’s lifetime. Burning fossil fuels, by contrast, returns C02 to the atmosphere that has been locked away in the Earth’s crust for millions of years. Crops can be grown with the purpose of being burnt to produce energy, e.g willow and oil seed. We can also extract methane from waste landfill sites and burn it to produce energy. Methane is a powerful greenhouse gas and burning it would reduce the amount in the atmosphere.

 

HYDRO ELECTRIC POWER (HEP).

On the Earth water is neither created or destroyed but is constantly moved around. Water evaporates from the oceans, forming clouds, falls out as rain and snow, collects into streams and rivers, and flows back to the sea. This is known as the Water Cycle. All this movement provides an enormous opportunity to create useful energy. HEP uses the force of moving water to create electricity. However HEP stations often require large dams, which can disrupt ecosystems and displace people. There are a number of large scale HEP stations in Britain. In Scotland they provide a considerable amount of energy. Unfortunately there is little room for further development of large scale HEP stations and the potential of small scale ones is being investigated.

 

TIDAL POWER. 

The idea is very similar to HEP. A dam-like structure is constructed across an estuary to trap a high tide of water and then let it pass through turbines to generate electricity The water flow can generate electricity on the falling tide only, or on the falling and rising tide. The Rance Estuary in France is an example of a successful plant. The UK has potential to widely use tidal power with the Severn and Mersey estuaries being possible sites.

WAVE POWER. 

Ocean waves are a concentrated form of wind energy. Friction develops between air and water as wind blows across the water, and waves are produced as energy is transferred between these elements. Taking the motion of the waves, and translating it into mechanical or electrical energy, generates energy from waves. The UK has the potential to exploit a great deal of energy from wave power. There are 2 types of instruments that can generate electricity from wave energy: floaters and sitters. Salter’s Duck and Cockerell’s Raft are floaters and Vicker’s “Duct is a sitter.
Salter’s Duck.
This design can extract approximately 90% of the energy from a wave It is made up of a chain of about 25 floats. As they bob up and down on the water a pump is driven and electricity is generated.
Cockerell’s Raft.
Lines of rafts are placed at right angles to the wave front. Between the rafts are hydraulic motors or pumps, which convert the energy to high pressure that then drives the turbines.
Vicker’s Duct.
Water goes up and down a submerged tube and as the pressure changes water is squirted out and electricity generated.

GEOTHERMAL ENERGY.

Rocks under the Earth’s crust contain naturally decaying radioactive materials like uranium and plutonium producing a continuous supply of heat. The amount of heat within 10,000 metres of the Earth’s surface contains 50,000 times more energy than all the oil and gas resources in the world. Geothermal energy is power generated by harnessing this heat. Wells are used to pipe steam and hot water from deep within the Earth, up to the surface. The hot water is then used to drive turbines and generate electricity. The regions with highest underground temperatures are in areas with active or geologically young volcanoes. These “hot spots often occur around the Pacific Rim. In the UK at a depth of 1500-3000 metres below the surface there are some aquifers that contain water at very high temperatures which can be pumped to the surface and used in heating schemes.

Colchester Council Supports en-form Project – Helping Residents Reduce Energy Bills

Date Published: 27 September 2016

As part of its Environmental Sustainability Strategy Colchester Borough Council (CBC) has helped local charity en-form secure a £5000 grant for the third year from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy through the ‘Big Energy Saving Network’.

The grant will allow en-form to offer assistance to help residents reduce their energy bills, particularly those who do not feel confident about changing their energy tariff. It will run alongside the Council’s successful Big Community Switch Scheme.

The Government funded project will allow en-form to review consumers energy bills and then to offer free, impartial and unbiased advice on alternative tariffs. If a resident decides to switch en-form will even arrange this.

Although the service is open to anyone it is aimed at those who have never switched energy providers and don’t feel confident enough to do so through Colchester Borough Council’s online Big Community Switch scheme.

Cllr Dominic Graham, Portfolio Holder for Waste and Sustainability, Roles and Responsibilities, said “Our support of charities such as en-form is a really important part of the work we’re doing under our Environmental Sustainability Strategy. We want our residents, businesses and communities in Colchester to be as environmentally efficient and aware as possible to make our Borough sustainable, thriving and welcoming”.

Andrew Wilkinson, Project Manager at En-form said The most we have saved a customer so far is £1,449. According to Government figures almost 60% of consumers have never switched and are paying too much. With energy prices beginning to creep up this is a great time to see if you are paying too much ‘ 

There are many reasons why people do not switch including being unsure of the process, unable to receive impartial advice, no access to the internet, finding the process complicated or not understanding their energy bill. This service will arrange everything for residents and then let them decide if they want to switch.

Residents who would like to benefit from this service or know someone who could, can call en-form on 01206 367776 or e-mail info@en-form.org.uk.

ENDS 

Notes to editors: 

To find out more about en-form visit www.en-form.org.uk  or contact info@en-form.org.uk 01206 367776

To find out more about CBC’s Environmental Sustainability Strategy visit www.colchester.gov.uk/sustainability

For more information call 07815 088150 or email communications@colchester.gov.uk

A Brief Guide To “Going Green”

Check out these 18 easy to understand ways that you could make your life that bit greener – by Geoff.

  1. Encourage/support local “green” activities, clubs, societies, trades, buy food from local growers.
  2. Be informed about energy use,  eg can you read your meters and understand your bill?
    Know how much energy each appliance uses and costs, Turn off unnecessary lights and appliances especially heaters.
  3. Insulate, also make sure your thermostats are correctly set. Boiler serviced?
  4. Know a little about energy (see Ladybird books!) eg do you understand that for every unit of electricity generated power stations burn at least 2.5 units of fuel. On Shore wind generators are the cheapest source of electricity, Off Shore are the dearest – not counting the long term liability of nuclear waste.
  5. Have solar panels both Photo-voltaic & Water heating. (I’ve had solar water heating for 30years – it works).
  6. Know about ground source and air source heating systems and where they are/are not a good idea.
  7. DIY – all sorts, keep your eyes open and learn new skills as a matter of common sense.
    Plant Trees, Grow Veg …Potatoes, Carrots, Onions, Beans Broad/Runner/French, Lettuce,  Radishes, Tomatoes.
  8. Compost garden and household waste, think about having a greenhouse. Conserve water, Install water buts, what about Grey Water?
  9. Use up leftovers, Don’t throw food away.
  10. Keep chickens – last year my 3 hens laid 991 lovely eggs.  – app. £250 at shop prices.  Those birds cost £7 each and their feed totalled less than £40 p.a.
  11. Ride Bikes also Walk – for health, enjoyment, saving car use.  Excepting in bad weather, cycling can and should always be easy, comfortable and enjoyable if it isn’t get help.  (Research has shown that cycling can put off body ageing by many years)
  12. Driving sensibly reduces wear and improves mpg – Some cars have an mpg meter. They ought to be standard in every car.
  13. Think about disposing of anything – there is no such thing as throw away, somewhere someone has to do something with it!
  14. Recycle where possible,  put “it” on Ebay, Freegle, or offer to charity shops.
  15. Print (computer paper) on both sides when suitable.
  16. Complain about things that are wrong  eg  whenever food growing land is taken for any sort of development. Bad design eg new houses where living rooms don’t see the sun, attics don’t allow for use as storage, roofs unsuitable for solar panels, not well insulated, gas boiler fumes output below head height, garages with no person door no room for bicycles freezer or garden tools …. the list goes on and on
  17. Save Xmas card blank page eg for use as lists etc.
  18. Holiday less abroad and more in UK.

These are just a start.  You can probably think of many more opportunities.