Renewable energy comes from natural resources, such as sunlight and geothermal heat, which are naturally replenished. It is often contrasted with energy derived from fossil fuels, which is non-renewable as these fuels are finite in supply. Renewable energy systems produce either heat or electricity, and examples include:
Generating your own energy
The Energy Saving Trust (EST) provides valuable guidance on choosing the right type of renewable energy system for your needs and circumstances. It also helps to explain the various forms of incentives and financial support available to householders, community organisations and businesses. This support includes the Government's Clean Energy Cashback schemes - Feed-in Tariffs (FiTs)(for renewable electricity systems) and the anticipated Renewable Heat Incentive - which collectively replace the grants formerly available under the Low Carbon Building Programme. To be eligible for FiTs, you need to use an installer certificated under the Microgeneration Certification Scheme.
Planning permission is required for some renewable energy installations in homes, and you should contact the Planning Officers in your district council to check the planning requirements in your local area, especially if you are considering wind turbines or air source heat pumps. General guidance on planning issues and renewables is available on the Energy Saving Trust's website.
The advent of FiTs has led many installation companies to approach householders, businesses and other organisations with offers of 'Free solar PV' schemes. These commonly involve the installer receiving the FiT payments, whilst the building/site owner benefits from reduced electricity bills. Whilst such offers appear advantageous to the customer, you should weigh up the pros and cons carefully, and take account of guidance from reputable sources such as the Energy Saving Trust.
For news and information on local and regional initiatives to support the renewable energy and sustainable building sectors, please refer to Devon County Council's Environmental Technologies webpage.