Talking about micro-generation
We tend to hear nothing but bad news about the planet and the environment these days. If it’s not the new evidence that the polar ice caps are melting quicker than was predicted, it’s news that another hole has been discovered in the ozone layer which could potentially threaten our health. Some people will throw their hands up at such news and think that we’re doomed and there’s nothing we can do to change the situation. Others, however, take a more measured and pro-active approach, and reason that if all of us can make just one small change, then collectively we can really make a difference. Well, for all the doubters there is now a little good news: there’s a technology that we can all embrace that will positively contribute to the preservation of the planet, not just for this generation, but for future ones too. You can produce your own electricity in a greener and more sustainable way, using natural resources like the sun, wind or water. The technology’s called micro-generation, and it lets you produce low carbon renewable energy. Oh, and by the way, you might be able to make a few bob too in the process.
So what is micro-generation?
Micro-generation uses low carbon energy technologies, like PVor wind turbines, to create electricity or heat in homes, businesses or community buildings. This electricity or heat is described as low, or zero, carbon energy, because it creates a low amount of carbon emissions, or none at all in the case of solar cell-generated energy.
What are the benefits of micro-generation?
Micro-generation can reduce the use of fossil fuels that are harmful to the environment. It can also save you money on your fuel bills in two ways:
- producing your own energy from renewable sources could be cheaper than buying energy from energy companies
- if you generate more electricity than you use, you can sell it to energy companies, using Feed-in Tariffs (FITs)
The FITs scheme guarantees a minimum payment for all electricity you generate and a separate payment for the electricity you export to the national grid. This is in addition to the bill savings you make by using the electricity you generate. If you’re considering using micro-generation and PV solar cell technology, it should be remembered that upfront costs can be considerable and payback times can take as long as 10 years, however, the FITs are guaranteed to continue for 25 years, so micro-generation will still prove to be financially beneficial. It’s also worth remembering that micro- can increase your property value too. Not only will it help the environment, but it will also be beneficial to your family, home or business.
So what ismicro-generation?
Solar photovoltaic (PV) systems are often known as solar panels, and use energy from the sun to create electricity. PV requires only daylight, rather than direct sunlight, to generate electricity. When light shines on a solar panel, it creates an electric field across layers of silicon in the cell, causing electricity to flow. The greater the intensity of the light, the greater the flow of electricity is. Power can be used straight away or linked back into the power grid.
You can use PV solar panel systems for a building with a roof or wall that faces within 90 degrees of south. No other buildings or large trees should overshadow it. If the roof surface is in shadow for parts of the day, less electricity will be produced. Solar panels aren’t light, so the roof needs to be strong enough to take their weight, especially if the panels are placed on top of existing tiles. Solar panels come in a variety of shapes and colours, from grey ‘solar tiles’ that look like roof tiles, to transparent panels that you can use on conservatories or glass to provide shading as well as generate electricity
How can solar panels help the environment and save you money too
Producing your own energy could be cheaper than buying it from energy companies. In addition, you can also sell any excess energy you generate to energy companies, using Feed-in Tariffs (FITs). The solar panels most commonly installed by homeowners consist of eight panels, can generate up to 2.5kW and cost between £10,000 and £12,000. The Energy Saving Trust says these panels could generate at least £700 a year from a Feed-in Tariff, as well as saving you about £100 a year on energy bills. In addition, you could make a minimum of £25 to £30, and arguably a lot more by selling unused energy back to the national grid.