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What is green energy?

Green energy, also known as clean energy, is the type that is generated through natural resources such as water, sunlight, or water. The usual sources of green energy are renewable ones, such as the ones stated above. The key feature of the resources used to produce green energy is that they do not harm the environment by emitting greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.

Green energy comes from renewable energy technologies such as wind power, solar energy, biomass, geothermal energy, and hydroelectric power. These technologies work differently by either using wind turbines to use air to generate energy or take power from the sun by installing solar panels.

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What is the most efficient form of green energy?

First, we would briefly go over a few resources used to generate green energy. Here are the ones used most commonly:

Solar Power

Solar Power

This common renewable, green energy resource is usually produced using photovoltaic cells that capture sunlight and turn it into electricity. Solar energy has become affordable & can be used for domestic purposes like garden lighting. However, it is also used on a larger scale to provide power to the neighborhoods.

Wind Power

Wind Power

This type of energy generation is particularly suited for higher altitudes like mountains & hills and offshore sites as well as deserts. This is so because airflow in such geographical areas is more robust, helping to push the wind turbines to produce power.

Geothermal energy

Geothermal Energy

The type of green power makes use of the thermal energy contained under the earth’s crust. While this energy source requires drilling into the ground, which brings the environmental consequences into question. While some countries, such as Iceland, have easy access to geothermal resources, it is a resource that relies on location for ease of use.

While analyzing which source of energy is the most efficient one, there are a few things that are supposed to be kept in mind. You have to examine how much energy is actually transformed into electricity after it is absorbed, how much land clearing is required to set up the energy units, and what costs are incurred to set up the units.

Solar and wind power are the most commonly used sources of green energy because they can be used and reused without the requirement of an exhaustible element. The waste of natural gas and coal requires environmental mitigation and access to energy. This is why the total efficiency of usable energy for coal is only 29% of its original energy value. On the other hand, Wind has an efficiency rating of 50% and beyond in some cases.

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What are some green energy tips?

Here are a few actionable tips to make use of more green energy:

  • Crowdfund clean energy projects
  • Use water processing technologies
  • Use blinds and curtains to optimize efficiency
  • Install rooftop solar panels
  • Switch to double glazing
  • Unplug devices when not in use
  • Use LED lights

Conclusively, fossil fuels should now become a thing of the past as they do not provide us with a sustainable solution to our energy needs. Green energy solutions can help us create a more sustainable future without damaging the planet any further.

Read More: Dual Fuel Energy Deals in UK

Here are some of the frequently asked questions related to solar power and electricity generation. Happy reading!

The current status of green energy in the UK:

The UK electricity system is undergoing significant and rapid change. The world’s largest installed capacity of offshore wind has effectively stopped generating electricity from coal and has recorded a 20% drop by demand since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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However, this transition from traditional, reliable coal to weather-dependent wind and solar generation brings increasing challenges to match electrical supply and demand at every instant. This is where large grid-scale energy storage systems could help regulate and buffer supply and demand and improve grid control.

The UK government recently announced the removal of designing barriers to putting together energy storage projects over 50MW in England and 350MW in Wales(Source). This, the government feels, will enable creating energy storage capacity. The United Kingdom currently has 1GW of operational battery storage units and a further 13.5GW of battery projects under development at the design stage.

The government’s intervention creates a planned environment that would enable the United Kingdom to succeed in its target of net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.

This might happen with either a high proportion of large-scale, centralized renewable generation or with more of a priority on smaller community schemes like locally-owned wind turbines and solar panels.

Batteries will, primarily, contribute significantly to the grid regulation of an extra 30GW of offshore wind by 2030 (to achieve the united kingdom target of 40GW of offshore wind by that year).

Can I switch energy suppliers if I have solar panels?

Yes! You can compare energy suppliers even if you have solar panels installed.

The main incentive to switch to a different energy deal is the savings. If you can find the cheapest energy deals in your area, you must do so, even if you have solar panels installed.

Changing the electricity supplier with solar panels is the same as with any other energy resource. In fact, you do not have to worry about your Feed-In-Tariff contract at all.

A Feed-In-Tariff simply means the subsidy provided by most of the energy companies. The company that pays your subsidy is your FIT licensee and may not necessarily be the same as your energy supplier.

So switching to a different energy supplier is not a problem if you have solar panels installed. It does not affect your FIT at all, and your old energy supplier can still be your FIT licensee.

No matter which company you are in contract with, it is always good to regularly check the market rates. This will help you learn about the cheapest energy deals in the UK and make decisions accordingly.

Are you wondering who sets your FIT payments? All of them are assigned by Ofgem. So there is no need to compare energy deals or suppliers based on FIT payments. If you plan on switching between different energy providers, you should be doing it to save money paid for fuel.

Once you have chosen a FIT licensee, you do not have to stay with them forever. You can change them whenever you want. However, you should note that you would not get a better financial deal by comparing the FIT license.

The main motive behind changing the FIT licensee should be the satisfactory service or the time it takes for the FIT licensee to pay you.

Do you know which energy suppliers offer Feed-In-Tariffs? All Big Six companies - E.ON, British Gas, SSE, EDF, Scottish Power, and Npower offer FIT contracts. In addition to that, smaller suppliers offer these contracts too.

How do solar panels work?

When speaking about solar panels, it is essential to differentiate between two main types:

  • Photovoltaic panels that generate electricity
  • Solar thermal panels used for heating purposes

Photovoltaic (PV) systems are widely used solar panel systems in the UK. Photovoltaic systems are used for the conversion of sunlight directly into electricity.

Solar cells are made up of semiconductors, like silicon, which absorb the sunlight and convert it into electricity.

Solar cells are connected electrically and packed together in one frame, commonly known as a solar panel. When you combine multiple solar panels, they form a solar array. Finally, when you add the cabling, brackets, inverter, and so forth, the entire system creates your solar panel system.

The electrical conductors are attached to two terminals: positive and negative, thus forming an electrical circuit. From there, the electrons are captured in the form of an electric current. This current, together with the cell's voltage, defines the power that the solar cell can produce and is how solar panels convert sunlight into electricity.

Is solar energy the cheapest way to generate electricity?

Sunshine is free, but the technology needed to convert it into usable electricity is often expensive.

To encourage more people and corporations to modify solar energy, countries can adjust their policies to purchase that equipment cheaper. Today, quite 130 countries have policies that lower the value of building new solar installations.

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In most countries within the world, it’s consistently cheaper to create solar farms than new coal- or gas-fired power plants.

The International Energy Agency in the UK has declared that the world’s best solar power schemes offer the cheapest energy deals.

Solar and wind energy sources of electricity generation are the cheapest as both have seen a decline of cost by 9% and 4%. These new sources of energy provide electricity to at least two-thirds of the world’s population. The reasons behind solar energy being cheaper are reduced equipment costs, technological advancements, and government subsidies.

Will solar energy ever become cheap in 2021?

Solar energy is expected to become a cheaper solution in 2021. As the solar manufacturing and installation process becomes more efficient, there is less room for “hard costs.” Hard costs consist of the expenditure incurred on solar inverters and panels.

While solar energy growth at such a rate is partially due to government subsidies and environmental goals, solar energy is now attractive due to its prices alone. Cost reduction in solar panels became a reality due to development in the following technologies:

  • Bifacial panels: New solar cell technology now enables both of the sides of a panel to absorb sunlight and generate cheaper electricity - a boost of 15% (read more)
  • Larger solar panels: This allows both sides of the panel to create higher, cheaper electricity and have enhanced productivity (read more).
  • Trackers: More solar installations include motorized systems that keep track of suns’ movement and change in solar panels’ alignment ( read more).

The operation costs are expected to see a further decline in 2021. With advancements in technologies like artificial intelligence, it can further decrease operational costs and make solar energy cheaper.

In 2021, solar panels cost around £6000-£7000 in the UK for an average-sized household. This is approximately 60% cheaper than the costs provided in 2010!

However, if you plan to get solar panels for your household, you need to get the right number of panels you require. This would greatly influence the cost that you might have to incur. The number of members in your household and their usage determines the number of solar panels required.

Is solar energy cheaper than fossil fuels?

Statistically, as time goes on, fossil fuels are becoming more available. But at what expense? The direct use of fossil fuels to power your home/business not only harms the earth, but the manufacturing process also has an environmental impact. There are hidden costs that are not often considered associated with using coal/gas/oil to generate electricity.

The production of fossil fuels, for instance, causes toxic emissions per se. Both the mining and drilling methods for these fuels have a short and long-term effect on the earth. This could include, for instance, the deposit of excess materials (like soil and rocks), leading to disruption of nearby habitats and the subsequent flooding, landslides, and polluted surface of drinking water.

Leading on from extraction, the transport of fuels over long distances from their initial production point carries its emissions, plus creates dangerous risks. It is essential to understand the impact of the direct use of fossil fuels and their production mechanism.

It is a fact that the production of any form of energy would contribute to the carbon footprint. But what's more critical is the degree of effect. To generate, for instance, solar power, there is a requirement for land and water use, and obviously, the materials needed to develop the system. However, what’s important is putting things into perspective by comparing these milder, short-term environmental effects with the harsher, long-term impacts of fossil fuel creation.

Given the decline in renewable resource prices over the years, it is safe to say that solar energy is cheaper than fossil fuels.

Renewable energy may not have wholly replaced fossil fuels yet. Still, it is undeniable that the world is now more inclined towards wind and solar power than coal.

All the renewable power generation technologies currently in commercial use are expected to fall within the cost range of fossil fuels, if not below. U.K based think tank called Carbon Tracker Initiative has reported that coal plants are becoming more of a financial burden. The cost of solar thermal energy is expected to go down from $0.60 to $0.10 by 2022.

What are the drawbacks of solar energy?

While there are considerable advantages of using solar energy, there are various drawbacks and complaints.

The most significant drawback of solar energy is the lack of reliability and consistency. Solar systems rely on a steady absorption of sunlight, which may hinder the geographic latitude and clouds.

In terms of latitude, although the use of solar energy is possible across the globe, its efficiency decreases with an increase in distance from the equator. Moreover, clouds diminish the power of solar panels, especially in the habitually foggy and overcast regions.

However, batteries allow homeowners to store their solar energy and draw energy from the battery when their solar panels aren’t producing energy.

It is important to note that a large solar array must provide electricity to the entire building. Unfortunately, solar photovoltaic technology is not advanced yet and is still in its developing stages. Hence, for now, large solar arrays are to be built to compensate for single solar panels’ inefficiencies.

The costs that are incurred while opting for solar panels must be considered with proper understanding. You must realize that expensive battery banks used in solar arrays are usually not covered in the insurance provided for solar panels.

Solar arrays are usually installed on rooftops to make use of open, sunny, and large spaces. As a result, repairs of the underlying roof becomes more tricky. Hence, you must perform the needed rooftop works to avoid a hassle in the future.

Furthermore, the sun may be an intermittent source of energy. There are three main reasons why solar is taken into account as an intermittent source of power:

  • The sun doesn't rise at night. Therefore solar panels don't generate power in the dark.
  • The sun’s intensity varies, supporting the situation, the time of year, and therefore the time of day.

While solar panels generate emission-free facilities, it's crucial to notice some pollution-related to solar panels’ manufacturing.

Some solar panels contain harmful pollutants, like sulfur hexafluoride, which is more potent than CO2. However, the impact of CO2 on the climate is far more significant than that of sulfur hexafluoride.

One of the disadvantages of putting solar panels on your house is that it is often expensive to maneuver them, so you have to plan to move.

Internet metering agreement together with your utility is fixed to the property. Also, finding someone to get rid of and reinstall your solar panels are often costly.

What are the cheapest solar energy deals on the market?

Due to the climate crisis, whether a provider uses renewable energy or not is increasingly becoming a top priority for British households shopping around for cheaper gas and electricity. Aside from using less energy, it is bound to significantly impact your carbon emissions and your wallet to switch to a greener supplier.

Here are few companies which are promising enough in terms of providing the cheapest green energy:

  • Pure Planet
  • So Energy
  • Octopus Energy
  • British Gas
  • E.ON
  • Tonik energy

Let’s switch to a Cheaper Energy Option

Apparently, there are dozens of gas and electricity suppliers entering the market every year. While Ofgem is tightening regulations as to who can become an energy supplier, there has been a string of high-profile collapses that have left residential customers second-guessing if switching to a new supplier is safe or not.

To answer the question of how to set them apart, the answer is easy: Energy Comparison! Through different energy comparison tools, one can make a more informed decision about the best energy deals out there.

Through energy comparison, you can shortlist the cheapest electricity and gas deals found in your region. It should be noted that the most affordable green energy providers mentioned above may or may not supply the electricity in your area. This is so because the number of suppliers available and its deals varies from region to region.

Problems of Energy Comparison:

However, you are advised to be conscious about what energy comparison tool you are using.

Several customers turn to comparison websites to work out which is the most affordable supplier. Although they can find you some of the cheapest deals, they sometimes aren’t completely honest with consumers.

Energy deals comparison websites often get a commission from specific suppliers who want to get more prominent positioning to get more customers. This means that they may hide specific tariffs, preventing you from quickly finding the cheapest dual fuel deals as well as single energy deals of electricity or gas.

This becomes more complicated when you try to compare green energy suppliers only as there is currently no online comparison site that deals exclusively with green energy. However, online energy comparison sites should have the option to filter deals so you can only see tariffs with only green electricity.

Hopefully, you got an overview of how solar panels work, their drawbacks, the costs attached to them, and the cheapest options available to you. Since a significant chunk of the household expenditure constitutes utility bills, it is essential to choose a cost-effective energy generation method.

Conclusively, it is high time that we start making a shift towards green energy as our planet is already struggling to sustain itself amidst a climatal crisis. Undoubtedly, choosing a reasonable and affordable deal would be one of your top priorities.

For that, you must take quotations from different suppliers and make a well-informed decision because despite the fact that a renewable source of energy is sustainable. It does not mean it has no drawbacks. It is important that you find the right installer who guides you through the whole procedure, and helps you save!

Be mindful of your needs, budget, and the environment!

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