Deal With IT's Secretary Victoria Nicholls writes a regular column in the East Kent Mercury:
What does renewable energy mean to you? Many people think only of power from the wind, either on or offshore, when renewable energy is mentioned. Wind turbines have a huge place in the mix of energy forms for the future and they can also cause great controversy if there are plans to site them in sensitive areas where communities or wild life will be affected.
There are several other forms of renewable energy, some of which can be installed in homes and can benefit the population directly. These include solar water heating and photovoltaic panels, the latter generating electricity directly from light.
At the beginning of February the Government introduced new feed-in tariffs for domestic renewable energy, which means that anyone installing photovoltaic panels, a hydro-electric scheme or their own wind turbine, will be paid for the electricity they produce. Sounds too good to be true? Not at all – and this is only bringing us into line with other European countries, e.g. Germany, where feed-in tariffs have been operating for ten years.
In actual fact, the benefits are threefold: the householder will be paid 41p per unit of electricity generated; they will not have to buy electricity from their provider and should they have any electricity unused, they can sell that back to the National Grid at 3p per unit. There is, of course, an initial outlay but at present there is also a Government Grant of £2,500, which can help with this.
This represents an excellent investment of 8-10% on money put into the scheme that you choose. It also represents a certain amount of independence from the energy companies that rule our lives at present and as fossil fuels become rarer will have increasing difficulty giving us a continuous supply.
If you are lucky enough to be able to fit both solar thermal and photovoltaic panels, you will have a supply of hot water and generate electricity, too. You will have made a very good investment and reduced your carbon footprint into the bargain. Worth thinking about?
For more information go to the Energy Saving Trust at www.energysavingtrust.org.uk