Microgeneration energy guide

Microgeneration energy guide

Looking to cut your energy bills, make money and create a sustainable way to generate energy? Read on to find out why microgeneration might be a great option for you.

With energy prices rapidly increasing more and more people are looking at microgeneration as a way to cut bills and be environmentally friendly.

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The technology behind microgeneration is also getting cheaper and more efficient, so it makes more and more sense to jump on the bandwagon. In fact, the technology has become so popular that in late 2013, Swedish retail giant Ikea began selling a range of solar panels for households.

So is now the time to begin generating your own energy? How much money could you stand to save? And how can you get started with microgeneration?

You can find the answers to these questions and more in our handy guide to microgeneration.

What is energy microgeneration?

Microgeneration refers to the small-scale generation of energy by households, small businesses and communities. So anyone who installs solar panels on their roof or a domestic wind turbine on their property is involved in microgeneration.

This type of energy production is carried out on a much smaller scale than that of a large power plant and also typically takes place where the energy is needed. This increases efficiency and ensures there are no distribution costs.

Why do it?

Different people are attracted to microgeneration for different reasons. Some want to be more environmentally friendly and others simply want to save money and reduce their reliance on the National Grid.

Microgeneration is typically a ‘green’ process and energy is generated as a result of harvesting renewable resources such as the sun, wind and water flow. So regardless of which method you use, you are reducing the need for energy generated using highly polluting fossil fuels such as oil and coal.

In addition, although installing solar panels or a wind turbine can prove a costly investment, you could not only recoup your initial outlay but also turn a profit. The amount of time it would take you to start making money depends on your individual circumstances.

Can I make money through microgeneration?

Yes. One of the main draws of microgeneration is the ability to make money by generating your own energy.

Microgeneration energy guide

This type of energy production is carried out on a much smaller scale than that of a large power plant and also typically takes place where the energy is needed. This increases efficiency and ensures there are no distribution costs.

The Feed-In Tariff (FIT) scheme was introduced in April 2010 as a replacement for the previous system which relied on government grants. Under the scheme you will be paid for electricity you generate, regardless of whether you use it yourself or send it to the grid. You’ll also cut your energy bill as you’ll be using your own energy supply.

For more information on rates, how to sign up and what type of technology is covered by the scheme, check out our Feed-In Tariff guide.

How can I register for the Feed-In Tariff scheme?

The first step to registering for the FIT scheme is to have your chosen generating technology installed. Bear in mind that the technology needs to be Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS) approved, as does the installer. This independent scheme launched in 2008 and is supported by the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC).

Once everything is set up, ask the installer to register you on the MCS database. You should then be sent a certificate approving your submission. At this point you will need to inform your chosen energy supplier that you are looking to join the Feed-In Tariff scheme and will need to provide an application form and the certificate confirming your MCS approved installation. If you are using solar panels, you will also be required to provide an Energy Performance Certificate to prove your household has an efficiency rating of at least D.

Once your chosen supplier has received and checked the above, they will confirm you are eligible for the FIT scheme and add you to Ofgem’s Central FIT Register. The supplier will then contact you to work out when and how they will provide payments to you.

hat are the different technologies used for microgeneration?

There are quite a few options for anyone looking to generate their own power, although not all might be suitable for your needs or situation. You should also bear in mind that the amount of energy produced varies greatly depending on your situation. For example a roaring river will produce more than a trickling stream!

Hydro or water turbine

This technology requires a source of running water such as a river or stream which flows all year long. It generates power by turning the energy from the running water into a form of power we can use in our homes.

Small wind turbines

Similar in structure to the huge turbines you might have seen in wind farms, small wind turbines are usually between 2 and 8 meters high. The amount of electricity they produce varies on their size and the strength of the wind. Planning permission may be required prior to installation.

Solar

Solar photovoltaic (PV) converts the sun’s energy into electricity which can be used to power households. Don’t worry about the panels not working in the UK as they’re able to create energy from daylight and don’t require a sunny day – although the more sunlight, the more electricity is produced.

If you are interested in finding out more about solar panels check out our wide-ranging collection of solar panel guides.

Anaerobic digesters

This technology relies on a natural process in which plant and animal materials are broken down by mico-organisms within an air-tight container or ‘digester’. As the micro-organisms digest the organic matter they release biogas, which can be used to generate heat and power.

Micro combined heat and power (CHP)

At present, domestic CHP technology is powered via mains gas or liquefied petroleum gas. Despite this, CHP technology is considered green as it is more efficient than simply relying on fossil fuels. A domestic CHP system resembles a traditional boiler but also generates electricity whilst heating water.

Are there any green energy plans out there?

If you want to make sure as much of your energy is possible is generated in a sustainable way, you might be interested in our guide to green energy plans. Here we list the green plans currently available on the market and help you choose one that suits your conscience and your pocket.

Read more…

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