Could Heat Pumps Replace Our Gas Boilers?

The fossil fuels used in our homes for heating, hot water and cooking are responsible for more than a fifth of the UK’s carbon emissions and are one of the greatest contributors to pollution in our everyday life. In total 85% of homes use natural gas boilers at the present time so replacing them could be monumental for the environment.

For this reason, in the spring of 2019 the Chancellor of the Exchequer at the time, Philip Hammond announced that ‘fossil-fuel heating systems’ would not be installed in any domestic new build properties from 2025 as part of the Future Homes Standard. These systems include gas and oil boilers. This decision was part of the government’s plan to tackle climate change and growing carbon emissions in order to reach their net-zero emissions target by 2050.

Boris Johnson, the current British Prime Minister, further developed this plan and announced in November 2020 a ‘Ten Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution’.

The policy which bans all fossil fuel heating systems in new builds could be extended to all new gas boilers in homes from the mid-2030s. As it stands now, only heating systems installed in new builds from 2025 will need to be low carbon. It is encouraging to see the government taking steps to reduce the number of new gas boilers installed but it’s thought to be unlikely that gas boilers will be banned altogether in the immediate future.

The International Energy Agency (IEA) has said that the UK should ban all fossil fuel boilers from 2025. The agency has proposed 400 steps in a special report to reach net-zero and this is just one of them. The UK government is expected to reveal its own strategy in the next month, before the crucial Climate Summit in Glasgow (COP26) starting at the end of October. It is thought that the new strategy could spell the end of the great British gas boiler once and for all.

The current Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, Kwasi Kwarteng, has predicted that the cost of electric-powered heat pumps will halve if the government backs them as a replacement for gas boilers which is a clear sign that the government will endorse this technology later this year.

When challenged as to whether the cost of the technology would make it a feasible solution on a large scale, the Business Secretary said:

“Once you’ve made a very clear indication as a government that that is the way you want to go, suppliers will invest in producing heat pumps and will be able to produce them at a much cheaper cost so that the retail price would be considerably lower than £10,000.”

The heat and buildings strategy is due to be published in the Autumn and is expected to lay out a detailed timeline for the removal of boilers from not only new-build homes but existing housing stock, to help decarbonise our homes. It is anticipated that this long-awaited policy paper will include a replacement for the current Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) which is due to close in March 2022.

The Renewable Heat Incentive gives financial support to people who use certain renewable technologies such as heat pumps, to heat their homes. The payments help you offset the cost of installing and running your new heating system. You could cover your initial outlay with the quarterly instalments paid to you over a 7 -year period. It has been reported that ministers are considering replacing the RHI with a £400m boiler scrappage scheme, which would offer £7,000 grants to homeowners when the RHI scheme closes.

Though the government is continuing its trials on hydrogen boilers as an alternative to our current gas boilers, heat pumps have emerged as the clear choice for individual households. They are deemed to be the most viable option at this time. Heat pumps are already popular despite them being a lot more expensive than gas boilers at present. A good heat pump installation will tend to have a longer lifespan than gas boilers and many offer cooling in the summer months as well as heat during the summer.

According to the Heat Pump Association, at least 36,000 heat pumps were installed in homes and businesses across the UK last year and this number is expected to almost double this year to between 60,000 and 70,000. However, this figure will need to rise tenfold within the next 7 years to meet the target set by Boris Johnson last November to install 600,000 a year by 2028. It has been estimated that gas systems need to be replaced in an estimated 23 million homes in the UK.

Many homes need extensive insulation work before heat pumps can be installed which is an additional though necessary expense. Heat pump technology is improving all the time and the more popular they become the lower the upfront costs will be.

In simple terms, a heat pumps works like a reverse fridge, by extracting energy or warmth from the outside air, the ground or nearby water, and concentrating the heat before transferring it inside.

COMPARE PRICES FROM LOCAL INSTALLERS

Compare prices from local companies fast & free

Enter your postcode to compare quotes from leading professionals. We promise to keep your information Safe & Secure. Privacy Policy

Richard Lowes, a heating expert at the Regulatory Assistance Project says:

“It requires a mindset change. Rather than relying on a powerful burst of fossil fuels to quickly heat a cold house, it is more important for heat pumps to run continuously – albeit at a very low level – to gently top up the heating to an even temperature. Your fridge doesn’t blast cold air constantly. But it keeps your food cool by adjusting to very slight increases in temperatures, and only when necessary.”

There are 3 main obstacles that the government will need to overcome if heat pumps are to go mainstream; the high upfront cost; generally low levels of home insulation; and the negative word of mouth stories created by faulty installations.

Richard Lowes says:

“Heat pumps are rarely faulty. So, when you hear horror stories, it’s usually due to bad advice or poor installation. It’s a myth that heat pumps can’t work in old or terraced houses – they just might require a little more work. Even if you can’t manage to do internal wall insulation, a heat pump can still work – you just might have to get a bigger one.”

It’s not just heat pumps that work best in homes which are well-insulated, but it particularly applies to them because they provide a steady, gentle source of heat to maintain an even temperature rather than the blast of fossil fuels that draughty buildings need to warm up.

Possibly the greatest challenge faced by the the home heating revolution is the large numbers of trained installers that will be needed to carry it out.

Mark McManus, the managing director of heat pump maker Stiebel Eltron UK says:

“If there’s any problem in the industry, it’s probably the skills gap. There are a small number of well-trained installers in the UK. But once this skills gap closes there is likely to be better service and greater competition, which could cause costs to fall further.”

The Heat Pump Association has set up a new programme in order to bridge the skills gap which in theory could train up to 40,000 installers a year.

Business secretary, Kwasi Kwarteng has welcomed this move which he sees as critical in turning up the heat on the government’s low-carbon ambitions and creating more jobs within the green economy.

He says:

“There is a transition, and that’s something we’re focused on, and we want to try and help people make that transition.”

There are many advantages to installing a heat pump including amongst others, lower running costs, less maintenance, better safety and most important of all lower carbon emissions. If there’s the political will to instigate a heating revolution and it’s backed by robust training programmes, we should see heat pumps becoming widespread across the UK.

REA Calls for 2021 to be a Turning Point for Renewables

2022 renewable Energy

Though the UK government has made historic climate promises in the past year, delivery on them has been too slow. New climate strategies have been shrouded in uncertainty and those that have emerged have too often not been unsuccessful. According to a new report from the Association for Renewable Energy and Clean Technology (REA), the UK will not meet its net zero target without additional investment and policy support. Every month of inaction will make it harder for the UK to get on track.

The REA noted in its annual state of the industry report, REview21, that despite the renewable energy and clean technology sector continuing to be buoyant, it was being stifled by a lack of consistent, proactive and long-term support from the government.

Dr. Nina Skorupska CBE, CEO of the REA, said:

“The same goes for employment. Again, we have seen decent progress, with nearly 140,000 people now being employed by the renewable energy and clean tech industry and we believe that nearly 200,000 extra jobs could be created by 2035.”

She believes that the number of new jobs created could be even greater if the government backs the renewables industry properly and puts it at the heart of the UK’s economic recovery. She cautioned however, that these job projections are not guaranteed.

COMPARE PRICES FROM LOCAL INSTALLERS

Compare prices from local companies fast & free

Enter your postcode to compare quotes from leading professionals. We promise to keep your information Safe & Secure. Privacy Policy

She went on to say:

“If the sector continues to receive patchy and short-term support from the government then we could fall well short of our sector’s, and, indeed, the country’s economic potential. We need these new jobs to be fairly distributed across every region and country that makes up the United Kingdom too.”

The Prime Minister’s Ten-Point Plan for a green industrial revolution was an important initiative but it has yet to be backed with robust policies. So far there hasn’t been any real engagement with the public as to what changes lie ahead.

It is now critical that the new strategy is published before the COP26 climate summit due to be held in Glasgow, with clear policy plans that are backed by the Treasury. Importantly, though, the new strategy must be accompanied by a commitment to get the country ready for the serious climate risks facing the UK, as the next phase of adaptation planning starts.

According to government statistics, renewables provided a record 43% of the UK’s electricity last year, up from 37% in 2019.

The Department for Business, Industry and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) published that for the first time ever in 2020, increased wind generation meant that renewable energy sources generated more electricity than fossil fuels. Wind generation increased by 18% compared with 2019 which set a record in the annual quantity of power it produced, providing 75.7 terawatt hours (TWh), up from 64TWh in 2019.

Fossil fuel generation fell to a record low in 2020, providing 37.7% of electricity. Gas produced 35.7% while coal fell to just 1.8%.

The pace of growth in new renewable capacity was also thought to be slowing down with just 1GW added in 2020 which was the lowest since 2007. However, the UK’s solar sector appears to be picking up again. Research from Current± publisher Solar Media found earlier this year, that in the 12 months to 21 March 2021, 660MW of new PV was installed, and that there is now in excess of 15GW in the pipeline.

RenewableUK CEO Dan McGrail said:

“This is stellar news in the year that the UK is hosting the biggest international summit on climate change for years. It shows that this country is playing a leading role in the global energy transition, with renewables becoming the dominant source of new power generation – outstripping fossil fuels for the first year ever and setting new record highs across the board. It’s another significant step on the road to net zero emissions, but we need to move even faster and decarbonise the power sector by 2035.”

The Met Office is warning that the UK is already undergoing disruptive climate change and that it is vital that practical action is taken at scale against the biggest threat that we face to our way of life.

The REA are calling for six monthly contracts of difference (CfD) auctions to allow further renewables to come onto the UK’s grid. They want adequate budgeting with a clear rolling timetable for these auctions, as well as new support for small scale projects and the removal of VAT on domestic installations. The Treasury recently revealed that it had no plans to change the VAT levels on ‘green products such as solar panels and heat pumps despite repeated calls from the industry to use such a change to drive growth. 

The REA’s report REview21, said that support should be provided for all technologies including bioenergy, which they believe has a “vital value” the government should acknowledge, and that innovation funding should be reformed to enable more renewable and clean technologies to benefit from it.

It is essential for the grid to be reformed to ensure that the UK has an efficient grid network that facilitates renewables and clean tech and aids their growth. The REA would also like to see a definitive decarbonisation priority incorporated into Ofgem’s key performance indicators and activities.

In response to the increasing calls for the decarbonisation of heat to become a priority in the UK, Prime Minister Boris Johnson released his ten-point plan in November 2020. The plan set out a goal of 600,000 heat pumps to be installed every year by 2028. The Green Homes Grant launched in September 2020 was designed to support the installation of energy efficiency measures as well as heat pumps and solar thermal. However, the grant was dropped after just 6 months which led to a rise again in calls for action.

The REA is asking for a coordinated, long-term policy framework to enable the decarbonisation of heat in the UK. The policy framework should support all renewable technologies, and work should be undertaken to close policy gaps for business and industry. The REA thinks that there should be tariff support for the replacement of fossil fuels, funded CfDs for industrial heat decarbonisation and tax benefits.

Impressive progress has been made in recent times to decarbonise the transport sector, according to the REA. This is thanks in part to the growth of the electric vehicle (EV) and hybrid market. Now that there is a ban in place on the sale of new internal combustion engine vehicles from 2030 the growth in EVs is clear to see. Between 2019 and 2020, the market share of new car registrations for EVs and hybrid cars rose from 3.17% to 10.56% the REA said.

The REA believe that the government should look to offer long-term support to the transport sector by maintaining adequate grant funding to overcome areas of market failure and by supporting local authorities to improve charging infrastructure networks.

The REA and Innovas put employment figures together for the renewable industry as part of the finance chapter of the Review21 report. They found that for the financial year 2018/2019, there were 133,977 people employed in the sector, while in 2019/2020 there were 138,264 people employed. This is an increase of 3.2% from 2018/2019.

Once again, the REA think that the right policy environment would make a big difference. They forecast that there could be 222,000 jobs in the renewable energy and clean technologies sector by 2035, more than double employment figures for 2019/2020.

Though the renewable industry is continuing to grow, the REA would like to see further support across the country to make the most of the opportunities green energy growth provides for job creation. Their findings back up a recent call to action from the Green Jobs Taskforce amongst others, for the UK government to support the ambition to create 2 million skilled jobs by 2030.

Dr. Nina Skorupska CBE, CEO of the REA, said:

“If the government is serious about reaching their net zero ambitions, and about ‘levelling up’, they need to back our sector, remove the barriers preventing the growth of our technologies and help us deliver new jobs and investment. 2021, the year the UK is hosting COP26, must be a watershed moment. The time for rhetoric is over, we need to see action.”

We saw UK emissions falling to nearly 50% of their 1990 levels during the 2020 lockdown, but the journey to Net Zero is far from even half completed. Emissions are expected to rebound this year which suggests that lasting progress in reducing emissions is on a very unstable footing. The relative success we have achieved in decarbonising electricity must continue, but it needs to be matched with solid commitments to decarbonise buildings, transport, industry and agriculture.

Green Energy Suppliers in the UK: Who’s Who?

There’s no denying that the future of UK energy is green. In our race to achieve carbon-neutral status by 2050, the UK is slowly starting to eschew the burning of coal, oil and natural gas for energy in favor of more renewable methods. Solar power, wind energy, and hydropower are slowly becoming a greater presence in our nation’s energy fuel mix. Around 900,000 UK households have PV solar panels installed. And energy suppliers of all shapes and sizes are tripping over themselves to bring 100% renewable energy tariffs to the market. Making your home more renewable doesn’t have to mean spending money on new installations. It can simply be a matter of choosing the right green supplier and tariff.

But just because a supplier offers a green energy tariff doesn’t necessarily make them a green energy supplier. In this post we’ll look at some of the UK’s major players in the green energy market, and why they’re so popular.

Who are the UK’s green energy suppliers?

The energy experts at Papernest have a useful guide to all of the UK’s green energy suppliers. As you’ll see, there are a great many, some of which you may not have been aware of. And while they are too numerous to list here, let’s take a look at some of the major players and how they can help give your energy supply a green makeover.

Octopus

Octopus Energy has enjoyed a meteoric rise to prominence since it was first founded in 2015. They offer 100% renewable electricity from wind and solar power, as well as carbon offset natural gas. They have won multiple supplier of the year awards and are widely lauded for their high standards of customer service. 

Bulb

Another extremely popular green energy supplier is Bulb. It also offers 100% renewable energy as well as a combination of carbon offset and green biomethane gas. What makes Bulb unique, however, is its singular ‘vari-fair’ tariff. Rather than offering a slew of different tariffs, it has only one variable-rate plan that is constantly checked to ensure that it is competitively priced.

Ecotricity

Ecotricity is arguably the UK’s greenest energy supplier. As well as offering 100% renewable energy and biomethane / carbon offset gas, Ecotricity is also actively involved in anti-fracking campaigns at home and overseas. 

Ecotricity remains the UK’s only  vegan energy supplier as its biomethane gas is exclusively sourced from plant matter with no animal waste. While it may not be the most affordable supplier on the market, Ecotricity’s green credentials are nonetheless impeccable. 

Bristol Energy

Bristol Energy is one of the last remaining municipal energy suppliers, and a great choice if you want to support an energy supplier that places ethics first. As a municipal energy supplier, Bristol Energy is not beholden to shareholders. Instead, it channels its profits into supporting local communities, helping to combat fuel poverty, and ensuring access to affordable renewable energy.

Getting to know the UK’s green energy suppliers is a great first step in reducing your home’s carbon footprint and making your energy supply more sustainable.

COMPARE PRICES FROM LOCAL INSTALLERS

Compare prices from local companies fast & free

Enter your postcode to compare quotes from leading professionals. We promise to keep your information Safe & Secure. Privacy Policy

All New Prisons to be Zero-Carbon in the Future

The UK was the first major economy in the world to pass laws to end its contribution to global warming by 2050. In order to achieve this target, the UK needs to bring all greenhouse gas emissions to net-zero by 2050. This is more ambitious than the previous target which required at least an 80% reduction from 1990 levels.

With this aim in mind, the government is working towards tackling climate change by adopting many different strategies. In May this year, the Ministry of Justice announced plans for 4 new prisons to be built in England that would be all-electric. The prisons will use heat pumps instead of gas for heating and a range of energy efficiency measures such as smart lighting systems and solar technology in order to reduce energy demand by half. The aim is to cut energy costs by £100 million over the next 60 years and to reduce CO2 emissions by at least 85% the equivalent of 280,000 tonnes, in comparison to other prisons already under construction.

The prison buildings will use new technology and modern methods of construction that produce as much or more energy than they consume.

An all-electric design will remove the need for gas boilers which means that once the National Grid decarbonises, they will produce net-zero emissions.

COMPARE PRICES FROM LOCAL INSTALLERS

Compare prices from local companies fast & free

Enter your postcode to compare quotes from leading professionals. We promise to keep your information Safe & Secure. Privacy Policy

Once the grid is fully decarbonised, the prisons’ use of both the self-generated electricity and the grid for heating and electricity will mean they can run net-zero.

The Ministry of Justice said that it was looking to achieve the gold standard ‘outstanding’ rating in Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method for its four new prisons. Future prison expansions will also be built to similar standards.

The first of the four new prisons are being built adjacent to HMP Full Sutton in East Yorkshire. In the meantime, work is underway to identify locations for another site in the north-west of England and two more in the south-east of England.

Lessons are being learnt from the construction of other prisons in the UK, such as HMP Five Wells in Wellingborough, Northamptonshire and HMP Glen Parva in Leicestershire to help cut carbon in both construction and operation. Everyone is benefiting from the reduction in CO2 emissions as both are being constructed more sustainably than existing prisons by using recycled concrete and steel as well as incorporating green energy.

Lord Chancellor, Robert Buckland, said:

“Our ambitious approach offers a unique opportunity to build back a safer and greener prison system. New jails will use new green technologies and modern methods of construction to ensure our prisons cut carbon emissions as well as reoffending.”

Existing prisons are also benefiting from a £15 million investment to cut their emissions. Solar modules are being installed at a further 16 locations in the UK in order to meet 20% of their power demand bringing the total number of solar panels across the government’s estate to over 20,000. Further to this, more than 200 electric vehicle charging points are also being installed across 40 prisons.

Even as far back as February this year, Gov Facility Services announced that it was planning to install solar on 2 prisons in Southern England. One of these was a rooftop installation at HMP Bure near Norwich in Norfolk and the other a ground-mounted installation at Whitemoor prison in Cambridgeshire.

This move by the Ministry of Justice to rollout solar followed the quiet end to the government solar initiative in 2018 after only 100MW of a promised 1GW was installed across HMG property.

The latest developments are part of the government’s £4 billion programme to create 18,000 additional modern prison places that could boost rehabilitation and cut re-offending.

The future of new build homes and renewable energy

Anyone involved in the property industry especially within the development stage has a responsibility to factor in the environment. After all, the lifespan of a home does not end when a buyer has been secured. Instead, every effort must be made to reduce the environmental impact of the building itself, along with all those who will use it for as long as it stands. 

To achieve this aim, the home needs to be designed with the latest in renewable technology. Doing so will give the property the best chance of remaining as eco-friendly as possible since comprehensive improvements will not need to be made to bring it in line with current environmental targets. 

In recent years, the renewables market has expanded at a lightning pace. Here are some of the top renewable energy picks to consider for anyone involved in the home building or buying process. 

COMPARE PRICES FROM LOCAL INSTALLERS

Compare prices from local companies fast & free

Enter your postcode to compare quotes from leading professionals. We promise to keep your information Safe & Secure. Privacy Policy

Geothermal heat pumps

Even the most energy-efficient boilers are no match for geothermal heat pumps, which are soon to become a more regular feature, especially in new build homes. Geothermal heat pumps harness the heat from under the ground to provide heat in the winter and cool air in the summer. 

They are far friendlier for the environment since they don’t primarily run on an external fuel source, unlike boilers which are usually powered by the gas network. Whatsmore, geothermal heat pumps also generate far lower energy bills and are also safer versus gas boilers which can be prone to safety faults. 

New build homes are particularly ideal candidates for the installation of geothermal heat pumps as ground excavation is required. Therefore, it’s far easier to install a geothermal heat pump when building a home from scratch versus trying to adapt an older property. As boilers eventually become phased out, expect the demand for geothermal heat pumps to soar. 

Solar roof tiles

Solar roof panels have long been the gold standard for renewable energy, particularly in older homes. However, Tesla founder Elon Musk has now developed solar roof tiles, which take the technology one step further, by integrating the ability to harness solar power within the roof tile itself. 

The launch is expected imminently, with homeowners currently able to put down a deposit on Tesla roof tiles. As you might expect, the cost far exceeds that of a regular roof and even solar panels, costing £16.71 per square foot. However, given a new roof can last decades, the technology will pay for itself over time. 

Solar water heating

Roofs aren’t just capable of heating our rooms but our water too. Solar water heating can either be supplied by evacuated tubes that are placed over the existing roof tiles or fixed place collectors, which can also be placed on the roof or integrated into the roof space itself. 

Solar water heating systems work best during the summer months, like a boiler or geothermal heat pump is required for the winter months. As with any solar technology, developers can maximise the overall carbon footprint by ensuring the roofs with the solar technology are south facing. 

By also minimising any north-facing developments wherever possible, this will also mean living spaces feel less cold in general, which will reduce the need to heat them. 

Electric Vehicle Charging Points

While it’s easy to focus on energy efficiency changes within the home itself, what about getting to and from your home? 

It’s no secret that diesel vehicles are on their way out, in line with efforts to combat climate change. By 2025, it’s estimated that 20% of vehicles will be electric. Expect that number to shoot up sharply once the diesel ban comes into force in 2030. 

Of course, without the traditional petrol station to go to, we are all going to need a way of charging our vehicles. Making what once seemed like something out of The Jetsons a reality, electric vehicle charging points are expected to become a popular feature outside of most homes. There have even been suggestions that lampposts could be converted to be able to hold electric vehicle charging points. 

So, it makes sense that developers should integrate electric car charging stations outside their properties wherever possible. Extra bonus points if the charging station is powered by a renewable energy source such as solar or wind power, reducing the carbon footprint of the property’s occupants even further. 

Bio

Aaron Cambden, Co-Founder of East Midlands estate agents Fairview Estates – https://www.fairviewestates.co.uk/

Fairview Estates is based in West Bridgford, Nottinghamshire. It provides a range of services to landlords and tenants alike, including property management services. With over 10 years in business, Fairview Estates is a small friendly team providing a tailored experience to the local property market, that is becoming ever more a rarity in the age of digital-only listings. 

As well as running Fairview Estates, Aaron has also recently co-founded Keyhive, which is a revolutionary key monitoring system for landlords and letting agents.  

Could Bladeless Wind Turbines Make Wind Energy More Environmentally Friendly?

____________________________________________________________________________

Leaders all over the globe are establishing ambitious climate change prevention goals. These plans include developing carbon-neutral nations and utilizing electric grids powered by renewable resources. Shrinking the world’s carbon footprint can significantly improve ecological conditions, conserving natural resources and healthy air quality.

Current technological development in the renewable energy industry is improving the accessibility of clean electricity. Once we improve the efficiency of production devices and decrease their environmental impacts, we can reduce our reliance on fossil fuels. First, though, scientists must mitigate the few downsides of renewable power devices, including wind turbines.

Ecological Challenges

Wind turbines are historically efficient energy production devices. They generate more power from wind than other renewable systems, like solar panels. Unfortunately, their current design compromises their sustainability because of its adverse biodiversity effects, use of non-recyclable materials, and dependence on inconsistent weather patterns.

Tens of thousands of bats die each year in the U.K. because of deadly wind turbine interactions. The animals may view turbines as trees or water sources, fatally colliding with the blades. The mass collisions generate a threat to certain species’ existence.

The turbine blades also contain non-recyclable materials, which means placing them in landfills after reaching their expiration dates. When they are unusable, companies remove the blades and chop them into smaller pieces. They place the sections on trucks and take them to designated landfills.

When the blades reach the disposal location, workers bury them in shallow graves where they will remain indefinitely. The non-recyclable elements in the devices can leach out into the soil, polluting local resources. Professionals in America will bury over 8,000 blades in the next few years.

Over time, limited space will remain for the components’ disposal. The system’s reliance on changing wind patterns also decreases its efficiency and sustainability. Nearly 7% of the U.S. electricity supply was derived from wind power in 2019. The rates of production could increase if the mechanism wasn’t so reliant on unpredictable weather patterns.

COMPARE PRICES FROM LOCAL INSTALLERS

Compare prices from local companies fast & free

Enter your postcode to compare quotes from leading professionals. We promise to keep your information Safe & Secure. Privacy Policy

A Sustainable Solution

Solar power is one alternative to wind, but it’s also not perfect. Solar power can generate significant quantities of clean electricity for localized communities. But its low efficiency requires mass panel development, generating large amounts of waste over time.

Thermoelectric power is an additional alternative to wind production. Unfortunately, rising water scarcity in the world decreases the sustainability of systems using freshwater sources. Environmental engineers and scientists examined the issues in the renewable energy industry and generated a sustainable solution.

Environmental engineers at Vortex developed a bladeless solution to the efficiency and ecological challenges. The device relies on vortex shedding – a wind energy occurrence. It extends upward from a grounded generator, oscillating to create clean electricity.

Unlike conventional turbines, the new device reduces waste production. It also limits animal interference by engaging in smaller motions than rotating blades. Scientists also developed additional alternative turbine models that generate wind power with little environmental interference.

The European company Airborne generated a small, shaftless wind power production device using drone technology. The drones act as a turbine alternative, decreasing the adverse environmental effects associated with wind power production. Unlike traditional systems, the device connects to a thin tether.

It flies in circles, generating its own wind and decreasing its reliance on unpredictable weather patterns. Additionally, the drones reach 600 feet, which is 300 feet higher than conventional turbines. The systems can access peak wind patterns, fueling additional power production.

In the United States, about 16% of the land is suitable for wind energy generation. The extensive heights associated with wind drones increase available production space to 66%. In the U.K., powering the nation while going 100% renewable would require tens of thousands of acres. We can achieve carbon neutrality goals when using these new-age devices.

Unlike the Vortex, wind drones contain blades that are significantly smaller and less ecologically degrading than turbines. They generate less waste and cause fewer biodiversity impacts than turbine blades. As technology advances, we can expect wind power technology to increase its sustainability.

Down the Line

With further technological advancements, we can develop an electric grid using 100% renewable power. Supporting the world’s electric needs with wind-harnessing devices can significantly decrease our ecological impact. A reduction in greenhouse gas emissions will limit climate change and preserve Earth’s natural state.

Author bio:

Jane works as an environmental and energy writer. She is also the founder and editor-in-chief of

Environment.co.

Is it Worth Investing in Solar Tiles?

solar tiles

Over 1 million UK households now have solar systems installed on their property according to the Solar Trade Association. Their popularity is due at least in part to the decreasing costs of solar technology. Most of these households will have on-roof solar panels but solar tiles are being recognised more and more as a viable alternative. New-build homes are increasingly being fitted with solar tiles as standard and their occupants will benefit from the savings on electricity bills that solar power has been proven to bring over the last couple of decades.

Though solar roof tiles will not be suitable for every homeowner, they are a great solution for those who are planning to build a new roof and want it to look as aesthetically pleasing as possible while incorporating solar energy.  If you don’t want to compromise the style of your house but wish to generate clean energy this may be the technology for you.

COMPARE PRICES FROM LOCAL INSTALLERS

Compare prices from local companies fast & free

Enter your postcode to compare quotes from leading professionals. We promise to keep your information Safe & Secure. Privacy Policy

Most solar power companies are busy improving the power and efficiency of solar panels, but there are a few who are focusing on making them look better and more natural.

Solar tiles, also known as solar shingles or solar slates work just like solar panels but they are made to look like traditional roof tiles. They are made up of photovoltaic cells that convert sunlight into electricity in the same way as solar panels. Solar roof tiles are small modules that can be attached to your existing shingles or substitute them. They are made of thin film PV or classic monocrystalline solar cells.

While solar panels are much cheaper and generally more efficient than solar tiles, the overall appearance of a home or building can sometimes be more important. This may particularly be the case when looking at investing in solar energy for a listed building. The same applies if you live in a protected area where changes to the buildings are not permitted for aesthetic reasons. Solar tiles can be useful for getting around tough building regulations as well as for retaining the original appearance of a building.

The price of solar tiles used to be much higher than it is now, and they are becoming more price-competitive and popular as time goes on. They were once considered a premium product for those who wanted a traditional roofline but are now a more common alternative to “bolt-on” solar panels.

Advantages of solar roof tiles

  • Solar roof tiles are almost invisible: This is probably the biggest advantage of this technology. Solar tiles are sleek and subtle. They look like a planned part of the structure, rather than having been tacked on as an afterthought. If you have solar panels on your roof, usually everyone will know that they are there!
  • Solar roof tiles, just like solar panels will generate clean, free energy for you:  You can save money on your electricity bills as solar tiles can generate a significant amount of the electricity that your household uses. Based on an electricity bill of £600 a year, your household could save over 50% on its annual energy charges with a 4kW solar roof tile system. The smallest option, a 1kW system, will produce savings closer to 15%.
  • You can also take advantage of the Smart Export Guarantee to export any electricity that you don’t use to the National Grid. Your energy supplier will pay you for this excess electricity.
  • Solar roof tiles are more durable than traditional, bolt-on panels: Solar panels can last up to 40 years or more, but because they are rigid modules mounted on metal, they can be damaged by extreme weather conditions such as hurricanes. In-roof solar tiles are fixed to rafters and battens which means there are no gaps for wind to get underneath and so they are extremely secure. Solar roof tiles are tough as nails and even a hurricane force wind would not be able to rip them off. Tesla’s solar tiles, for example, are up to three times tougher than traditional tiles so they can provide your roof with some serious protection.
  • Solar roof tiles are a great option for new buildings: They help to reduce wasted roof space and maximise solar efficiency. Their installation is simple, quick, and can be done by any roofer or solar installer.
  • Solar roof tiles are Ideal for listed buildings: If you live in a listed property or within a conservation area, you may not be allowed to alter the appearance of your home. Fortunately, solar tiles are a great way to keep the switch to solar inconspicuously. It’s important to always consult with your local authority before proceeding.
  • Solar roof tiles can increase the value of your property: This is due to the demand for green energy being high and growing all the time.
  • Solar roof tiles require minimal maintenance: Because there are no visible fixings or spaces under roof-integrated solar tiles, there is nowhere for debris to build up on the roof.  There is also the added benefit of not needing to disassemble a roof-integrated system if roof maintenance or repairs need to be carried out.

 Disadvantages of solar roof tiles

  • Solar roof tiles cannot be installed on an already existing roof: They are only suitable if they are being used for new buildings or if the plan is to substitute all the tiles on an already existing building. This is because solar and traditional shingles must be installed at the same time. Solar panels, on the other hand, can be installed even after your roof is finished.
  • Not all roofs can accommodate them: The roof must be pitched and angled perfectly for solar roof tiles to work. Solar panels, however, have a better chance of being positioned even on ‘difficult’ roofs.
  • The initial cost of buying solar roof tiles is higher than of traditional asphalt ones: Currently, solar roof tiles are a more expensive option than traditional bolt-on panels. If you are already planning to build a new roof, however, the added cost of installing solar tiles might not be so restrictive.
  • Solar roof tiles are slightly less efficient: The efficiency of solar tiles tends to range between 10-20%, while high-efficiency solar panels generally achieve 18-25% efficiency.
  • Solar roof tiles take longer to install: Of course, replacing a whole roof takes far longer than just installing a few solar panels which can of course add quite a bit to the total cost.

How much electricity can solar tiles generate?

There are a few factors which influence the amount of energy that solar tiles can generate including:

  • The more solar roof tiles there are, the more electricity they can generate.
  • The length of time the sun is out, as the longer the exposure to the sun the greater the amount of electricity that can be generated.
  • The pitch of your roof and the orientation of the south-facing roof in relation to the position of the sun will make a difference.
  • The efficiency of the make of solar tiles purchased will also affect the amount of energy that can be generated.

How much do solar roof tiles cost?

Solar tiles can cost more than twice as much as solar panels. To give an example, a 4kW solar tile system will typically cost between £12,000 and £16,000, while a 4kW solar panel system usually costs between £6,000 and £8,000.

They are more expensive because the tiles are a newer technology in a less competitive market and the installation process is longer and more complex.

The cost of a solar tile system is difficult to estimate as it will depend on the size of the roof and what proportion of the roof is being covered.

Though a solar tile system may seem an attractive option, solar tile technology is still in its infancy and currently expensive. There are also very few UK suppliers at present. If you are a homeowner considering converting your home to solar power, you may find solar panels the best fit for your requirements.

Why You Should Install Solar Panels On Your Home in 2021

More people than ever before are looking for environmentally friendly ways to power their homes. We live in an age when electricity has never been more important. We use electricity for almost everything from our home appliances and lighting fixtures to our computers, laptops, and mobiles. This large appetite for electricity makes it imperative to look at alternatives to using fossil fuels to generate the power we need.

Installing a solar array is most likely to be one of the green solutions you are considering. Solar panels use photovoltaic cells to harness the sun’s energy and convert it into electricity. You don’t have to live in California to benefit from solar power as panels can still generate some electricity on gloomy days. If solar panels are used efficiently, the average home in the UK can generate 50-60% of the power needed to supply its electricity.

The cost of installing a solar array is certain to be a concern but despite the lack of government subsidies over the past couple of years solar panels are still a fantastic and affordable investment. The economics of solar power has changed due to the steady drop in solar prices over recent years. An increase in demand and the development of new technology has led to solar panel costs falling by 50% over the past decade.

Solar panels are becoming an increasingly attractive option for homeowners because solar panels are an environmentally friendly and cost-effective solution to energy consumption in the home. They can also offer a secure return on investment and on top of that they require very little maintenance.

COMPARE PRICES FROM LOCAL INSTALLERS

Compare prices from local companies fast & free

Enter your postcode to compare quotes from leading professionals. We promise to keep your information Safe & Secure. Privacy Policy

Here are some of the reasons why you should install solar panels:

  • Solar panels are currently cheap to install

Solar panel costs have dropped dramatically over the past few years. The price of a typical solar panel system installation will cost between £5,000 and £8,000 and is getting cheaper. In recent years, the price of installing panels has decreased by 70%. According to government data, installing 4kW of solar panels in the first 3 months of 2020 was already £288 cheaper, on average, than it was in 2019. It can take anywhere between 15 and 26 years to recoup your costs for a typical home depending on where you live, how much electricity you use and what you’re paid under the smart export guarantee. 

  • You can save money on your utility bills

Solar energy is free to use, as sunlight is free! You can use the electricity your panels generate, to significantly reduce your electricity bills. How much you save will depend on your system size, electricity use and whether you are home during the day to use the energy that you’re producing. If you’re at home all day it will take less time to recoup your initial outlay on the installation, probably between 15 to 18 years depending on where you live as you will need to use less electricity from the grid. Using the power from your solar panels at the right time is key to saving money on your electricity bills. It’s a good idea to set appliances up to run while it’s light outside during the winter for example, staggering them to make the maximum savings. The Energy Saving Trust estimates that a typical 4kWp system can knock between £90/year and £240/year off your utility bill (kWp stands for kilowatt peak – how the power produced by panels is measured).

Overall, the cost of domestic solar electricity is now around 8p per kWh. This is a lot less than the 16p average domestic import cost from the grid, a cost that has increased by an average 4.75% each year over the past decade. Just taking this fact into consideration will make installing solar PV extremely worthwhile as you will be protecting yourself against future increases in the cost of importing power from the grid.

  • Get paid for any excess energy you generate

Back in January 2020, the government launched a new scheme known as the Smart Export Guarantee (SEG) to pay households that install solar panels. All large energy providers in England, Scotland, and Wales with at least 150,000 customers are required to pay homeowners for the renewable electricity they export back to the grid. This is electricity you generate but don’t use yourself that is then pumped back to the National Grid for use in other homes and businesses. In order to qualify for the SEG your solar panel system must be 5MW capacity or less and both your solar PV system and installation must be MCS accredited. MCS, or the Microgeneration Certification Scheme, is a quality assurance scheme for microgeneration technologies. Technology which is MCS accredited has been installed to a high standard and will operate both safely and efficiently. You’ll also need a smart meter that’s capable of tracking how much solar electricity you’re exporting to the grid to be able to receive the SEG.

Energy suppliers offer tariffs that pay a set rate for each kilowatt (kWh) hour of energy you export. The amount you receive varies by supplier and you’re free to shop around to get the best rates. Rates currently range from just 1.5p per kWh to 11.0p per kWh. Depending on your circumstances, a 4kWp solar panel system could make around £340 per year which will go a long way to helping you recoup your original investment. The great thing about the SEG is that you no longer need to feel that your unused electricity is being wasted and SEG rates should gradually increase as energy companies compete with one another.

  • Reduce your carbon emissions

Installing solar panels is a great way to reduce your carbon footprint. Solar energy is a natural, renewable source because it can be replenished unlike fossil fuels which are finite. Unlike non-renewable fossil fuels like coal and oil, solar is clean and does not produce greenhouse gases, carbon dioxide or harmful pollutants. Solar panels use only the natural renewable energy of the sun to generate electricity. The Energy Saving Trust estimates the average UK home with a solar PV system installed could reduce carbon emissions by 1.3 to 1.6 tonnes per year depending on where you live in the UK.

Using solar energy contributes to a much cleaner atmosphere. There’s no doubt that this is both good for our health and for the environment. By installing a solar panel system, you’ll be taking advantage of an eco-friendly way to make your home more energy efficient.

  • Use a reliable energy source

If you install a home solar system, you will no longer have to rely on traditional power sources of electricity which can be unreliable. Non-renewable sources of energy are limited and will eventually run out. You can have peace of mind knowing that solar energy will never run out.

  • Little maintenance is required

Home solar systems are easy to maintain. In fact, solar panels are very durable, and it can be several years before they require maintenance, which means less hassle for homeowners. You simply need to ensure that the surface of the solar panels is clean, and they’re not overshadowed by trees. The inverter will need replacing after 20 years which costs about £800, but solar panels will last 20+ years with little maintenance required. If your solar system has been properly installed and well-designed you shouldn’t have to worry about maintenance very much at all. There are of course things that can go wrong. Make sure your installer warranty covers you for up to 20 years.

If the panels have been damaged by something unexpected such as a storm, you may also be covered by buildings insurance. It’s worth checking what your insurance covers before you have the solar panels installed.

  • You can still switch energy supplier

You don’t have to get your electricity supply and smart export guarantee tariff from the same company. You can even pair solar panels with a renewable energy tariff, if you want to be fully green. Just like everyone else, solar panel users can switch tariffs freely by joining a service such as Money Saving Expert’s Cheap Energy Club.

  • Planning permission should not be needed

Most of the time you will not need planning permission for solar PV systems. There are a few exceptions which include, if your property has a flat roof, is listed or in a conservation area.

You might need to get approval from your council’s building control team, so remember to check with your local authority before starting your solar project.

In England and Wales, the Government’s Planning Portal says that panels are likely to be considered as “permitted development”.

Looking at the benefits listed above I think you can safely say that home solar systems are a worthwhile investment. Despite the lack of government subsidies, as long as you use at least 50% of your solar power on site, with a sensible choice of import tariff, solar will make financial sense. The more solar energy you use on site the more you will save. It’s also worth bearing in mind that the cost of grid electricity is constantly rising. Finally, I’d like to stress the importance of making sure you find a reliable and trustworthy service provider that can provide you with a quality home solar system and handle its installation and maintenance.