Generate your own energy

This is a very brief, introductory guide to renewables. Links to more information can be found throughout.

It makes sense to make your home as energy efficient as possible before you consider generating your own energy from renewables. This will mean that you don't need to generate as much energy or heat. There is lots of advice on how to do this in the other pages of the Take Action, Save Money section.

Types of Renewable

There are two types of renewables. Those that generate electricity and those that generate heat.

The main types that generate electricity are:

  • Solar Photovoltaic panels
  • Wind Turbines
  • Micro Hydro

Those that generate heat are:

  • Solar Thermal panels
  • Ground source heat pumps
  • Air source heat pumps
  • Wood-fuelled boilers

It is important to get the right sort of renewable technology for your own home. For example solar panels require a roof which faces a suitable direction.

Funding

Until 2019 there were two government schemes to help fund domestic renewables. THe FITS scheme is now closed but the RHI scheme still exists (July 2019):

Feed in Tariff:  

NB: the FITS SCHEME CLOSED TO NEW APPLICANTS IN APRIL 2019. Anyone registered to receive FIT payments before this date will not be affected.

FITS were introduced in April 2010 to make it more financially worthwhile to install renewables that produce electricity.

Technologies covered were:

  • Solar photovoltaic panels
  • Wind turbines
  • Hydro Turbines
  • Anaerobic digestion (biogas energy)
  • Micro combined heat and power (micro-CHP)

A two way meter allows the sale of electricity to the grid. Households need to have the money to purchase solar panels in the first place. You then needed to apply for the FIT. Under rules introduced in 2016 there was no guarantee that applying will meant getting FIT payments; only a certain number of households received support.

If you have had an application for FITs accepted then you will save/earn money in three ways:

  • You get paid for all the energy you generate, even if you use it yourself. The rate you get paid will depend on when your system was installed, how big it is, which technology you install and how energy efficient your home is.
  • You will get paid a further amount for the energy you sell back to the grid. For domestic systems this is usually estimated and current rates can be found here.
  • Your energy bills will drop as you will need to buy less energy from the grid. This factsheet has information about making the most of your solar panels to make sure you use as much of the energy they generate as possible.

 

Renewable Heat Incentive: Whilst the FITS scheme has now ended, the RHI scheme continues for now. It can provide money towards renewable heating costs in your home. You can claim for:

  • Biomass boilers (not stoves)
  • Solar water heating
  • Some types of heat pump

Payments are made for seven years and are determined by the amount of renewable heat made by your heating system. Find out more and apply for RHI.

Links

A number of homes in Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire have installed the technologies mentioned above. Some have taken part in the Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire Eco Open Homes Week and may be available to visit or to contact the owners to find out more about their experience of installing renewables.

Friends of the Peak District has produced a Quick Guide to Micro Hydro Power in the area.

Ground Source Heat Pump Association

Logpile allows you to search for supplier of wood and wood fuel equipment by postcode.

Investing in Community-Owned Renewables

If you can’t, or don’t want to, install renewables on your own home then you could invest in a community-owned project instead. These schemes usually involves lots of people buying shares in a larger scheme which them feed energy into the grid. Shareholders receive a return on their investment and many schemes also reserve some of their profits and use them to fund community projects. There are some projects in Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire, and many more further afield. Local examples:

  • Torrs Hydro – the first community owned hydro power project is in Derbyshire.
  • Sustainable Hockerton (pictured) – a community owned wind turbine and solar panels near Southwell in Nottinghamshire. The amount of energy generated more than covers the energy used by Hockerton residents.
  • ADVYCE - a project in progress. A group in Belper, Derbyshire are hoping to set up a community-owned hydro power project.

Our newsletter regularly includes news of schemes you can currently invest in.