Top 5 Sources of Green Energy in the UK

Top 5 Sources of Green Energy in the UK

The concern with regard to replacing the 25% of the electricity generating capacity in the UK over the next decade is a real one. And, a greater part of this challenge is to cut down the carbon dioxide emissions at the same time. 5 of the top and viable Green Energy options in the country include:

1. Solar power
2. Wind power
3. Hydroelectric power
4. Wave and Tidal power
5. Biomass and Biofuel

Find out how each one is going to play its role in the near future.

1. Solar Power

Green EnergyIn this source of Green Energy, the photovoltaic (PV) cell is the most basic structural and operational component. The PV cells require light for the generation of electricity. There are 3 main types of technologies in this field, which are being used currently and are also under continual developmental stages. These are:

1. Mono Crystalline solar panels
2. Polycrystalline solar panels
3. Thin-film solar panels

Solar panels can be mounted on walls or building roofs and most often they feed electricity directly to a building. The latest technology even allows cells to be integrated with the roof tiles. Bunch of solar cells can be added to generating higher level of power. The size of such solar panels can range from panels of a few kilowatts used in houses to large arrays working as solar power plants that feed power to the grid.

This type if Green Energy is especially suited for areas that is not accessible to the grid. Even hybrid Green Energy systems are under development with solar panel and wind turbine systems being combined to generate electricity. The benefit behind this type of combine renewable energy system is that while wind energy is abundant during winters and sunlight weak, it is the reverse during summers. This ensures a reliable source of renewable energy.

2. Wind Power

Green Energy FormsThe next source of Green Energy is wind power. It is generated by wind turbines that convert the kinetic energy of the wind into mechanical energy, which is converted by a generator into electrical energy. The good thing is that UK has access to more amount of wind power compared to any other European country. In the beginning of 2011, UK had around 283 wind farms connected to the grid, having 3,153 wind turbines that can produce 5,204 MW of Green Energy.

3. Hydroelectric Power

Hydro Electric Power Green EnergyThe Green Energy generated by water has been harnessed for centuries. Water wheels have been used by the Greeks to grind wheat into flour for over 2,000 years. Recently, hydro power has been used to power manufacturing units, textile mills and even to saw wood. And, the generation of hydroelectricity has continued since the middle of the 19th century, where the power of falling water has been harnessed.

Today, more than 20% of the global electricity need is fulfilled by hydroelectric power. While Norway generates almost 100% of its electricity from this Green Energy source, more than 70% of the electricity in Austria and Iceland are produced from hydroelectric power.

There are 3 main methods of harnessing hydroelectric power.

1. Impoundment
In this method a dam is made across a river to impound the water. This results in the formation of a reservoir that when released can be used to turn turbines for the generation of electricity.

2. Diversion
This is also known as run-of-river, where a part of the river is channeled to a canal. Most of the time, there is no need for a dam, due to which reason it has a lesser impact on the environment.

3. Pumped Storage
In this case, water is first pumped from a lower reservoir to a higher reservoir. And, whenever there is a demand for electricity, the water is released and it rotates a turbine to generate power. One of the best examples of this type of hydroelectric power plant is the Dinorwig Pumped Storage Power Station in Snowdonia, north Wales. The plant generates more than 1,700 MW of Green Energy.

The type of hydroelectric power plant is entirely based upon the type of site. The latent power can be generated by creating a head and flow of water. Despite some degree of impact on the environment, hydroelectric power is a renewable source of Green Energy with minimal maintenance.

4. Wave and Tidal Power

Wave and Tidal PowerThe coastline in Britain is more than 11,000 miles long and it receives one of the highest tides in the world. In fact, the second highest tidal range in the world is created in the Severn Estuary. It can be as high as 50 ft. However, in spite of all these advantages, this form of Green Energy is still in its developmental stages if considered for commercial deployment. Pelamis Wave Power tested its P1A wave generators at the European Marine Energy Centre, Orkney. Pelamis is planning to create a wave farm of 2.5 MW off the coast of Portugal. It is also working with many other projects in Europe. It is presently into the first stage of deploying and testing its latest P2 generator.

5. Biomass and Bio-fuel

bio fuelBiomass generally refers organic material like crops and timber grown especially to be burnt for generating heat and electricity. This Green Energy source is sustainable and also carbon neutral. The carbon it releases during combustion is balanced by the carbon accumulated during the photosynthesis process. 100% carbon neutrality can only be achieved by making sustainable use of trees or plants as fuel, while replanting them as they are harvested. This will ensure that carbon gets reabsorbed in a regular cycle.

The best and most popular biomass crops used in the UK are:
• Willow
• Coppice
• Miscanthus or Elephant Grass
• Poplar
• Oil seed rape
• Reed canary grass

In addition to these specially grown crops, some other by-products are also used as source of Green Energy. They include grain husks, straw, waste food, forest products and even animal waste like chicken litter and slurry.

Increasing both domestic and commercial dependence on all the 5 Green Energy sources mentioned above can help address the country’s increasing demand for renewable energy sources.