Renewable energy: what this means for you

Hector Grant, Chief Executive, Industrial and Power AssociationBy HECTOR GRANT

How we produce energy is changing rapidly, energy companies are now actively seeking new innovative ways to harness renewable sources and consumers are beginning to embrace new energy efficient methods of powering their homes. As we progress into this new age of energy awareness we break down renewable sources, and what it means for everyone.

Before we go into any great detail on what sources are out there, it is important to understand why there is a focus on renewable energies within the industry. First of all is the ecological and economical advantages. Unlike fossil fuels, renewable/green energy will not run out, it also creates less carbon dioxide, reducing harm to the atmosphere.

Using renewable energy sources in the home will help to reduce our overall dependency on fossil fuels, aiding both the environment and the economy as they become increasingly more expensive to import and even more difficult to source. Creating more renewable sources closer to home will deliver the country’s energy security for many more years than fossil fuels.

More energy companies are committing to change for these reasons, and have been encouraged by the UK Government setting a target to produce 15% of the country’s energy from 2020, as well as reduce the country’s carbon emissions by 34% in the same year.

For those unsure, renewable or green energy is that which can be generated from a natural and renewable source. Fossil fuels are not under this bracket as they are a finite resource, e.g. natural gas used to heat homes.

We already have a number of renewable sources of energy already in place across the country. Wind energy; solar energy; hydroelectricity; biomass; geothermal energy and biodiesel are all methods in use today.

The two most common and popular methods seen today to power our homes is wind energy and solar energy. There are advantages to both, however there is more focus on one over the other due to constraints in the UK climate.

Wind energy uses power generated from wind that rotates turbines, many of which you can see at wind farms located across the country. You can also create this at home if you have a small wind turbine installed at your home or on your land. Wind energy is free to generate, and better yet, suited to the windy climate here in Scotland!

Solar energy on the other hand is not as suited to the climate in this country to be mass produced on the same scale. This method uses photo-voltaic (PV) cells that converts the sunlight into a source of clean, renewable energy. While this can be harnessed to power individual homes, energy companies cannot build solar power plants due to the lack of sunlight.

As attitudes and demands change towards renewable energy, it will only encourage more to get involved. Over time more homes will be able to harness sources of renewable energy out there as the industry continues to seek out new and better solutions of providing energy long-term.

Hector Grant is Chief Executive of the Scottish Energy Association. 

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