Steps to Renewable Energies
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Types of renewable energy
What is a renewable energy source?
A renewable energy source means energy that is sustainable - something that can't run out, or is endless, like the sun. When you hear the term 'alternative energy' it's usually referring to renewable energy sources too. It means sources of energy that are alternative to the most commonly used non-sustainable sources - like coal.
What is zero-carbon or low-carbon energy?
Nuclear-generated electricity isn't renewable but it's zero-carbon(1), which means its generation emits low levels or almost no CO2, just like renewable energy sources. Nuclear energy has a stable source, which means it's not dependent on the weather and will play a big part in getting Britain to net zero status.
All our tariffs are backed by zero-carbon electricity(1) and if you choose to switch to us, you could play your part now in achieving the net zero target.
The most popular renewable energy sources currently are:
How these types of renewable energy work
1) Solar energy
Sunlight is one of our planet’s most abundant and freely available energy resources. The amount of solar energy that reaches the earth’s surface in one hour is more than the planet’s total energy requirements for a whole year. Although it sounds like a perfect renewable energy source, the amount of solar energy we can use varies according to the time of day and the season of the year as well as geographical location. In the UK, solar energy is an increasingly popular way to supplement your energy usage. Find out if it’s right for you by reading our guide to solar power.
2) Wind energy
Wind is a plentiful source of clean energy. Wind farms are an increasingly familiar sight in the UK with wind power making an ever-increasing contribution to the National Grid. To harness electricity from wind energy, turbines are used to drive generators which then feed electricity into the National Grid. Although domestic or ‘off-grid’ generation systems are available, not every property is suitable for a domestic wind turbine. Find out more about wind energy on our wind power page.
3) Hydro energy
As a renewable energy resource, hydro power is one of the most commercially developed. By building a dam or barrier, a large reservoir can be used to create a controlled flow of water that will drive a turbine, generating electricity. This energy source can often be more reliable than solar or wind power (especially if it's tidal rather than river) and also allows electricity to be stored for use when demand reaches a peak. Like wind energy, in certain situations hydro can be more viable as a commercial energy source (dependant on type and compared to other sources of energy) but depending very much on the type of property, it can be used for domestic, ‘off-grid’ generation. Find out more by visiting our hydro power page.
4) Tidal energy
This is another form of hydro energy that uses twice-daily tidal currents to drive turbine generators. Although tidal flow unlike some other hydro energy sources isn’t constant, it is highly predictable and can therefore compensate for the periods when the tide current is low. Find out more by visiting our marine energy page.
5) Geothermal energy
By harnessing the natural heat below the earth’s surface, geothermal energy can be used to heat homes directly or to generate electricity. Although it harnesses a power directly below our feet, geothermal energy is of negligible importance in the UK compared to countries such as Iceland, where geothermal heat is much more freely available.
6) Biomass Energy
This is the conversion of solid fuel made from plant materials into electricity. Although fundamentally, biomass involves burning organic materials to produce electricity, and nowadays this is a much cleaner, more energy-efficient process. By converting agricultural, industrial and domestic waste into solid, liquid and gas fuel, biomass generates power at a much lower economic and environmental cost.
What isn’t a renewable energy source?
Fossil fuels are not a renewable source of energy because they are not infinite. Plus, they release carbon dioxide into our atmosphere which contributes to climate change and global warming.
Burning wood instead of coal is slightly better but it’s complex. On the one hand, wood is a renewable resource – provided it comes from sustainably managed forests. Wood pellets and compressed briquettes are made from by-products of the wood processing industry and so arguably it’s recycling waste.
Compressed biomass fuels produce more energy than logs too. On the other hand, burning wood (whether it be raw timber or processed waste) releases particles into our atmosphere.
The future of renewable energy
As world population rises, so does the demand for energy in order to power our homes, businesses and communities. Innovation and expansion of renewable sources of energy is key to maintaining a sustainable level of energy and protect our planet from climate change.
Renewable energy sources make up 26% of the world’s electricity today, but according to the International Energy Agency (IEA) its share is expected to reach 30% by 2024. “This is a pivotal time for renewable energy,” said the IEA’s executive director, Fatih Birol.
In 2020, the UK hit a new amazing renewable energy milestone. On Wednesday 10th June, the country celebrated two months of running purely on renewable energy for the first time ever. This is a great step in the right direction for renewables.(1)
In the future, it’s expected that the number of renewable energy sources will continue to increase as we see an increase in demand for power. This will drive down the price of renewables – great for the planet, and great for our wallets.
Renewable energy and your home
The advantages of using renewable energy in a domestic setting are persuasive:
Cut your electricity bills: Once you’ve paid for the costs of installing a renewable energy system, you can become less reliant on the National Grid and your energy bills can be reduced.
Get paid for the electricity you generate: The UK Government’s Feed-in Tariff pays you for the electricity you generate, even if you use it.
Sell electricity back to the grid: If you are generating enough energy to export an excess back into the National Grid, you can receive an additional payment from the Feed-in Tariff scheme.
Reduce your carbon footprint: Green, renewable sources of energy don’t release carbon dioxide or other harmful pollutants into the atmosphere. According to the Energy Saving Trust's Solar panels page, a typical solar PV system could save around 1.5 - 2 tonnes of carbon per year. You can find out more in our solar panels guide.
Renewable energy facts:
Solar PV could account for 5% of global demand by 2020 and up to 9% by 2030(2)
By the year 2050, our energy needs can be met by 95% renewable energy(2)
Price Waterhouse Cooper predicts that Africa could run on 100% renewable energy by 2050(2)
Over the last four decades, the price of solar PV panels has declined 99%(3)
A US study showed that renewable energy creates three times more jobs than fossil fuels(4)
Obtain resources for renewable energies here.
3. Training & Education
Learn about renewable energies here.
What does it mean to have a smart home?
You can use smart home devices to adjust your lighting, heating and electronics automatically or remotely with your voice, phone or a computer. There are many different product options available - from smart bulbs and thermostats to secure smart locks and windows.
Imagine switching a lamp on with a single word, or the heating through your phone before you even get home. We're here to help you live the future and show you the best smart home devices available.
*Source: *EDF Energy
Learn how to implement, support and use renewable energies here.
Easy tips to reduce energy and carbon emissions at home
A year on and we're still mainly working, cooking, exercising and relaxing at home, which means we're naturally using more energy. All of this has an impact on our bills and the size of our carbon footprint.
We all need to play our part in helping Britain achieve our Net Zero goal by 2050. So, how can you be more low carbon and energy efficient at home without much spend or effort?
Read our low carbon life hacks - easy tips to help you and your family reduce your energy use in every room of your home.
1. Home office - reduce your energy use while working from home
Unplug your devices. When you're working from home, the quickest way to reduce the amount of energy is to unplug any devices you're not using, such as laptops, computers, monitors and speakers. The Energy Saving Trust estimates that Brits could save £1.7 billion a year by switching their devices off, so it's really worthwhile to remember to unplug as often as you can.
Close the curtains. This will help keep warmth in the room during the night.
2. Kitchen - reduce your energy and water use even when cooking and washing up
Don't leave appliances on standby in your kitchen. Be energy efficient and switch off your appliances – that little red light means energy is still being used.
Stop the frost. Defrost your fridge freezer regularly to prevent it using more energy than it needs to.
Clean behind your fridge and freezer. This will keep your fridge and freezer cool and working efficiently.
Use smaller pans. The smaller your pan, the less heat is wasted. So make sure you use the right size pan for your meal.
Keep saucepan lids on. Your food will heat up faster.
Turn down the wash cycle. 30 degrees washes reduce electricity use by 57%, not to mention 20kg of CO2 a year.
Use less water
Load up your washing machine fully, rather than doing half loads. And try to use economy or shorter cycles if you can.
Arrange a water-saving home visit (when it's possible to do so) - Some water companies offer to visit you at home to talk to you about your water usage and to give you tips about how you could use less water. They may also be able to fit water-saving devices and make fixes such as shower timers and tap inserts. Get in touch with your water company to find out more.
Choose a low-energy setting on your dishwasher. This may be a shorter programme or a lower temperature setting - or both!
Boil only as much water as you need. Make sure you fill the kettle with exactly the right amount of water – it will heat faster and not waste energy.
Use a washing up bowl. You can reduce your water bills by washing up in a bowl, rather than with water running from a tap.
3. Bathroom - reduce your water bill
Fix leaks and drips. Little leaks can waste a lot of water over time.
Take a shower. Give that rubber ducky a break – showers are usually faster, cheaper and more efficient than baths.
Change your showerhead. A more efficient showerhead with lower water flow could help you save water and energy.
Shower for a shorter time. A shower timer could save you money by cutting just one minute off every shower. A family of four, with a power shower, could save up to £60 on energy bills and £60 on water bills every year.
4. Home heating - whilst using less energy
Get organised with a thermostat. Set a timer on your thermostat so that when you get home your house is just right – this will ensure you only use as much energy as you need to heat your home.
Don't heat the rooms you're not in. Individual radiator thermostats mean you can adjust the temperature in each room accordingly.
Keep doors between adjoining rooms shut. This way, you stop the heat from escaping.
Turn down the thermostat. Just one degree could save you money – up to £80 a year.
Run your heating for an hour less each day. Even using a little less energy each day adds up to savings over time.
Bleed your radiators. This removes any trapped air that stops them from working as efficiently as they could. If you feel confident to do it yourself, check how to bleed your radiators.
5. Home lighting - keep the lights on for less
Change your light bulbs. Fitting LED bulbs is a great way to reduce energy use at home. It could even save you a few quid as they last up to ten times longer than normal bulbs.
Switch off the lights. Every time you leave a room, switch the lights off – now that’s a bright idea!
*Source: EDF Energy
5. Collaborate & Exemplify
Collaborate with people in your community on your renewable energies and see how its done here.
Do you or will you collaborate or exemplify for your neighbors rain gardening? Contact us and tell us your story!
6. Community Champions & Partners
Learn about community champions or partners who have (or are) using renewable energies contribute to the establishment of renewable energies here.
Are you or will you be a community champion or partner in establishing renewable energies? Contact us and tell us your story!