Let’s go more in depth and find out what are the technologies available for energy self-generation. Not only solar panels and wind turbines, but also less known technologies, such as micro-CHP, biomass and air pumps. Keep on reading for more information.
Different technologies exist for generating your own energy at home. However, not all types and combinations are suitable or economically feasible for households. Let’s have a look at some of the most popular technologies for energy self-generation at home!
Solar energy is the renewable energy source you can enjoy in abundance at no cost. You can make use of the power of the sun to generate electricity or heat up your water.
Solar panels (photovoltaics)
Solar panel electricity systems, also known as photovoltaics (PV), can help you cut your monthly energy bills, become energy independent and even go completely off the power grid. PVs capture the sun’s energy using photovoltaic cells and generate electricity which can be used for running household appliances and lighting. Keep in mind that these cells do not need direct sunlight and can generate electricity even during a cloudy day (at a lower capacity).
Solar water heating systems
Solar radiation can be harnessed by solar-water heating systems to secure your domestic hot water needs and thus save money on your energy bills. The technology consists of a solar collector fitted to your roof to capture solar energy and an insulated storage tank (a cylinder) to store hot water. In case of lack of sun, a conventional boiler or immersion heater can be used to provide hot water or to increase the temperature of the already heated water.
Micro Combined Heat and Power (micro-CHP) systems
Did you know that you can use a single energy source (normally natural gas) to effectively produce both heat and electricity? Well, it’s the Micro Combined Heat and Power (micro-CHP) technology. It uses a power station or heat engine to generate electricity and heat simultaneously, often referred to as “cogeneration”. The process is highly energy efficient with capturing and using the heat created as a by-product of the generation of electricity. Plus, the system produces significantly less carbon emissions compared to using electricity for heat.
Wind is another source you can use to generate your own electricity. A small-scale wind turbine can easily generate more power than what your lights and electrical appliances demand! Wind turbines use large blades to catch the wind, so that when the wind blows, the blades rotate, driving a turbine that generates electricity. The stronger the wind, the more electricity is produced.
Ground / Air Heat Pumps
Ground and air are sources of heat energy. Heat pumps transfer heat energy for heating or cooling. The refrigerator is the best known example of a heat pump. It should be noted that both ground and air source heat pumps need electricity to run and thus have some impact on the environment. However, they save on your fuel costs, contribute to reducing harmful CO2 emissions and the heat they extract from the ground/air is constantly being renewed naturally.
Ground Source Heat Pumps (GSHPs)
Do you like walking barefoot in summer and feeling the warmth of the ground? Well, you can use this warmth to heat or cool your home. The Ground Source Heat Pump is used to do so by using the earth as a heat reservoir. Since ground temperature under the surface (below a depth of approximately 6 m) stays fairly constant, heat pumps can be used throughout the year. GSHPs provide winter heating by extracting ground heat and transferring it into the building. In summer, it is reversed – the heat pump provides cooling by extracting heat from the building and transferring it to the ground.
Air Source Heat Pumps (ASHPs)
In contrast to Ground Source Heat Pumps, ASHPs extract heat from the outside air, pretty much in the same way that a fridge extracts heat from its inside. This technology works even when temperatures are as low as -15° C. The generated heat can again be used to heat radiators, underfloor heating systems, or to warm up water in your home.
Biomass heating systems
Biomass systems (also known as wood-fuelled heating systems) burn wood pallets, chips or logs to generate warmth for heating a single room, or to power central heating and hot water boilers. The logs or pellets are burned in a stove that can be fitted with a back boiler to provide water heating as well.
If you have a small stream/river close to your home, you could consider building a small hydropower system in order to generate electricity. Hydropower systems can produce enough electricity for lighting and electrical appliances of an average household, through converting the potential energy of the water into kinetic energy in a turbine, which drives a generator to produce electricity.
If this overview of available technologies for energy self-production raised your interest in this topic, consider taking the Action “Onsite energy generation” on ACT4ECO, where you will find more information on different types of systems.