Frequently Asked Questions
What Kind of Microgeneration Systems Are There?
Most well-known are the two kinds solar panels. Photovoltaic (or pv) panels generate electricity. Although they can be expensive to install compared to other technologies, PV systems require very little maintenance work if properly installed. Solar thermal panels generate heat for radiators and hot water for washing. Because they are so efficient nowadays both systems don’t need strong sunlight; any ambient light will generate energy. Other systems include:
Biomass: Green and food waste can be used in digesters to create methane which can then be burned for heat (also producing a fertiliser by-product) or wood chips, pellets or logs can be burnt directly to power small scale household or community schemesSmall Scale Hydro-Electric: Even a small stream can generate electricity by passing through a turbine and many village communities and neighbourhoods near flowing water have installed such systems
Wind Turbines: These work best away from buildings or trees which interrupt or distub wind flows
Co-Generation of Micro-CHP: this refers to any technology which generates both electricty and heat so its normally used in places like hospitals or hotels that require both. The most efficient uses main gas but any fuel (often biomass) can be used
Ground and Air Source Heat Pumps: Energy can be extracted from the air or the ground in different ways to warm homes and buildings and pre-heat domestic hot water. You still need electricity to drive the pump but they can produce three or four units of heat for every unit of electricity used
How Do Solar Panels Work?
Solar PV panels comprise many individual solar cells. When they are exposed to sunlight, photons striking the surface of the panel and electrons are released. Electric fields channel these into a current from which metal contacts generate electricity. With solar thermal panels either water or a fluid like anti-freeze in a series of tubes is heated directly by the sun and the heat stored in a tank until it is needed
Will Solar Panels Work On Any Roof?
To work efficiently solar panels must face south (or nearly south) and be on either a flat roof or one with a pronounced pitch with no shading from trees or things like chimneys or parapets.
What Would The Most Suitable Technology For My Building Be?
GNCE would carry out a free survey of your building and talk to you about your energy requirements; seeing past energy bills is a great help. We would then draw up a set of options with some rough costs and suggest ways they could be funded. The simplest solution will often be to install solar panels but GNCE can develop mixed solutions if required.
Where Can I Find Out More Myself
Nowadays it’s easy to do an internet search and get lots of useful information. It really depends on the kind of energy solution you’re looking for, from free solar panels that supply just your house to solutions for a community building, church or even a whole street. Good places to start include the Carbon Trust, the Energy Saving Trust and the Centre for Sustainable Energy