Green energy is clean, renewable energy. It’s available in unlimited quantities, with power being harnessed so that we can use it for our homes, towns and cities. Green energy is non-polluting, once the equipment is in place.
By using green energy, we’re able to keep powering our houses and businesses without doing further damage to our planet. Adopting any new technology takes time, so at the moment green energy is used alongside other types. It’s hoped that by 2050, half of the UK’s energy will come from renewable sources. By 2050, it’s hoped that 100% of the energy we use will be green.
Currently, renewable energy accounts for just under 30% of the power that’s used in the UK.
Read on to find out more about green energy.
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We need energy to power our homes and businesses. Electricity keeps everything running, and homes must be heated and cooled if we’re to live in them comfortably. In the past, much of our energy has come from the burning of fossil fuels. Fossil fuels are a finite resource, and the planet is running out.
The process of collecting and burning fossil fuels has done a lot of harm to our planet. It’s resulted in pollution and caused destruction, but was seen as a necessary evil. As technology’s improved, along with our awareness of the planet, we humans have developed other ways to get the energy we need.
Green energy is non-polluting. It’s sustainable, renewable and available in unlimited supply. This umbrella category covers solar energy, wind energy, tidal energy and geothermal energy. For as long as planet Earth exists, these things will always be available.
What’s more, to collect them we don’t take away from what’s available in future. These things are constantly generated by our planet and the sun, so we’re never going to run out.
Green energy is non-polluting, but not always entirely environmentally friendly. There are concerns that towering wind turbines pose a hazard to birds and bats, whilst tidal barrages can damage marine habitats and interrupt migratory paths. Meanwhile, geothermal heat pumps require underground pipes and a lot of digging to put them into place.
So far, humans haven’t discovered ways to make long-lasting biodegradable materials. This means that even though we’re doing better, we’re still producing large objects that could stay on planet Earth forever. A wind turbine isn’t easy to dispose of, once it’s reached the end of its life.
Of course, there are also environmental costs to creating the equipment in the first place.
Solar energy is one of the most popular forms of green energy. One of the best things about this type is that it’s entirely adaptable. Huge solar farms can be built in locations where sunshine’s in plentiful supply, collecting enough energy to power large numbers of homes. Just as easily, people can add solar panels to their own homes for personal benefit.
By adding solar panels to the roof of your house, you can generate your own power. This means that you can reduce your household bills whilst doing your bit for the environment.
It’s even possible to use small, handheld solar panels to charge and power devices like smartphones and tablets!
Solar panels require very little maintenance, once they’re properly in place. At best, you’ll need to clean them once or twice a year, in order to maintain their efficiency.
Solar energy can only be collected at times when the sun is shining. At night, your solar panels won’t be working. On overcast days, some energy is collected but not as much as when the sun is bright.
Solar panels should be placed in areas where they’ll have lots of access to sunlight. Trees and other buildings can block the light and make solar panels much less efficient. Most people have a suitable space for solar panels, so almost anyone can add them to their home.
Solar panels cost around £6,000 for the average household. You should expect your solar panels to last for around 30 years.
Wind energy is harnessed using wind turbines, like large fans that are moved by the wind. These are usually placed offshore or on hills, where the breezes are strong, and there’s little to block the wind’s path.
Wind farms are created to generate power for the country to use, though individuals with their own land can also install their own wind turbines. Wind turbines aren’t cheap, but they have a small footprint so you can still use the land around them for other things. As a result, these are popular with farmers who are sometimes paid to have wind turbines on their land.
The wind is an inconsistent source of power, though good locations have an almost constant supply. With wind turbines, it’s wise to expect some downtime, when the wind isn’t blowing very strongly. To take full advantage of this source of green energy, the right location is essential. High hills, far from buildings, are usually amongst the best spots.
A wind turbine costs more than £60,000, so even if you have available land the cost might still be prohibitive. That said, one turbine could power up to 300 homes. Fortunately, there are growing numbers of wind farms producing energy for our homes.
A wind turbine should be expected to last around 20 years from first use.
By building barrages and underwater turbines, humans can harness the power of the waves for green energy. As the tide rises, the turbines spin and generate electricity. As the tide falls, they spin the other way and generate even more. In total, in the best locations, tidal energy can be harnessed for roughly 10 hours.
Tidal energy has not been particularly popular, though its popularity is growing. This isn’t an option for individuals or even community groups. Harnessing tidal energy requires a long stretch of coastline and a small fortune, so it’s up to large corporations and the government to make this happen.
On the Earth’s surface, the equipment used for tidal energy is almost invisible. It’s kept far below the waves, where it won’t disrupt the view, though it may be harmful to marine life. There are, however, relatively few suitable places for barrages. To be effective, a location must have at least 16ft difference between high tide and low tide.
Tides are predictable, and the equipment used to harness the energy is very efficient. A tidal barrage, once constructed, should last around 100 years. Though the initial cost is enormous, once it’s in place, a tidal barrage should supply power for generations. Overall, this makes it one of the most effective sources of green energy.
At least six metres below the surface of the Earth, temperatures are fairly consistent. Though the Earth’s surface can be heated by the sun or cooled by frost, further down the weather doesn’t affect it. Dig deep enough, and you’ll reach ground that’s consistently around 9°C.
To harness geothermal energy, humans must dig and build extensive underground pipework. These pipes take advantage of the consistent temperatures, unaltered by the weather on the surface. We can use geothermal energy to heat our homes in winter and cool them in the summer, by running liquid through the pipes to collect heat from one location and distribute it throughout another. In summer, heat can be transported away, and in winter it can be brought in.
Geothermal energy systems aren’t easy to install or maintain. They cover huge areas, and a lot of digging is required to put them in place. If there’s ever a leak, all that digging must happen again to find and fix it.
To take advantage of geothermal energy, you’ll need a lot of land and lots of money. For a large house, a geothermal heat pump system can cost around £30,000. As a result, most geothermal systems aren’t designed for domestic use. Instead, they’re used for residential and commercial estates with many different properties.
Geothermal heat pumps typically last around 15 years from installation. At best they’ll halve your energy bills, so it’s very likely that they won’t be worth the investment.
Today, domestic equipment allows any homeowner to benefit from green energy. You may not feel ready to install a geothermal heat pump or add a wind turbine to your garden but might feel like your own solar panels could help your bank balance and the environment.
Here at Money Savings Advice, we have partnered with some of the UK’s leading Solar Energy companies. They have already helped thousands of people get the best Solar Panels & Solar Energy solutions for their homes and they can do the same for you.
Choosing an independent Solar management company means they won’t proceed with a scheme unless they are sure it is in your best interests. They are also regulated by the FCA, which gives you an additional layer of protection.
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