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. The Energy Saving Trust’s Home Energy Check calculator includes a section to help you work this out for your home:

Funding

There are two government schemes to help fund domestic renewables.

Feed in Tariff:  An initiative introduced in April 2010 to make it more financially worthwhile to install renewables that produce electricity. Technologies covered are:

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

A two way meter allows you to sell electricity to the grid. Households need to have the money to purchase solar panels in the first place. You then need to apply for the FIT. Under rules introduced in 2016 there is no guarantee that applying will mean you get FIT payments – only a certain number of households will receive support. If you do have 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.

Find out more and apply for FITS.

Renewable Heat Incentive: 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 year 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.

You must use an MCS accredited product and installer to qualify for FIT payments. Accreditation should also ensure quality of product and service.

Some installers are also members of the REAL assurance scheme. The scheme’s aim is to ensure that consumers wishing to install a domestic renewable have the necessary confidence and service standards to make an informed choice. The database of members on their website is searchable by postcode.

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. The amount generate more than covers the energy used by Hockerton residents.

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