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What Types of Renewable Energy are There and Should You be Using Them

By Edited Feb 13, 2014 0 0

Known as green supply, gas and electricity generated from renewable sources has become a key factor for a growing number of people who are concerned about the effect that our demand for energy is having on the planet. Using an energy comparison website to switch energy suppliers has made the process very simple and offers not just the choice of switching to the cheapest supplier, but also that of switching to a green energy supplier.

What are Renewable Energy Sources?

Renewable energy sources are those that are obtained naturally. These include power generated from the more traditional and better known sources like solar energy, wind, and the movement of water (hydro). There are also some less well known and newer technologies like biomass, bio fuel and geothermal that are contributing an increasing share of energy generated from renewable sources.

Solar Energy

Until recently, solar energy was discounted by the British public as a significant factor in generating energy due to the fact that sunshine can be a fairly limited resource in the UK. However the technology has come on in leaps and bounds and can now generate power without direct sunshine. The recent government programme to introduce a feed-in tariff for people that have solar collectors installed and feed power generated from them back into the national grid has prompted a renewed interest in the technology. This, along with grants to cover some or all of the installation costs has meant that more people than ever before now have solar panels installed. It is estimated that the installation can save up to £140 per year as well as generate some income from the feed-in tariff.


Biomass energy is significant because it actually represents around 10% of the world energy consumption, making it the fourth largest provider of energy. This figure is mainly due to the non-commercial use of firewood in many under-developed countries around the world. It also includes technologies that use biomass as a way of extracting energy from agricultural residues, human and animal waste products and other derived sources. Biomass is increasing its contribution to the world energy consumption totals by approximately 1.4% per annum as it is adopted and developed in a commercial capacity.

Hydro Energy

The movement of water to generate power has existed for hundreds of years with the use of the water wheel as a primary example. Nowadays, hydroelectric power is generated by large power stations that use the flow of water through dams to restrict and direct that flow through turbines to generate electricity. Due to the geographical problems associated with finding suitable valleys to accomplish this, much of this is restricted to Scotland. The latest form of hydro power is the use of turbines to harness the energy of waves to generate power. There are plans to develop off-shore farms and the first such turbine was switched on in 2008. The Committee on Climate Change estimates  that hydroelectric power could theoretically contribute up to 8 billion kilowatt-hours (kWh) of electricity per year to the UK's energy needs.

Wind Farms

Wind farms have been a factor in the UK landscape for many years. With over 350 wind farms consisting of over 3800 wind turbines, the industry represents 6858 megawatts of capacity. The development of offshore wind farms is likely to produce significant increases in the capacity with 5 wind farms becoming operational in 2012. The UK is currently number eight in the world table of wind power generating capacity.

If you want to ensure that the gas and electricity you use is generated only from these sources, an energy switching website is an easy way of doing this. Companies that supply energy only from renewable energy are clearly indicated in the results of the energy company comparison.

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