Microgeneration as an alternative to coal

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Microgeneration is the generation of zero or low-carbon heat and power by individuals, small businesses and communities to meet their own needs.[1]

Types

The most commonly used and widely available microgeneration technologies include:[2]

  • Micro wind turbines - Small turbines with a blade span of 2 to 5 m that can be fixed to the roof of a building or a mast nearby. The efficiency of a micro turbine depends on the location and the surrounding environment.
  • Photovoltaic (PV) electricity - Solar PV cells convert energy from the sun into electricity. PV cells contain one or two layers of semiconducting material, usually silicon. The cells are grouped into arrays – large flat panels which can be fixed to the roof of a building. The electricity produced is then transformed from DC (direct current) to AC (alternating current) using an inverter installed within the building.
  • Ground source heat pumps - These use a vertical or horizontal loop buried in the ground which transfers heat from the ground into a building. It can then be used to provide space heating or to heat domestic hot water.
  • Solar water heating panels - These are used to heat water using energy from the sun. They are composed of solar panels or collectors fitted to the roof – these can be either flat plate systems or evacuated tube systems.
  • Combined Heat and Power - This is a highly efficient method of generating electricity because the heat produced during the generation of power – using a gas turbine, engine or steam turbine – can be recovered and used to provide hot water for space heating.

There are also:[3]

  • Micro hydro systems - Small hydro systems that produce power from the flow of water.
  • Mini wind turbines - These generate electricity from the energy in the wind striking the turbine. Free-standing mini turbines are most effective when located in windy areas remote from buildings or other obstructions.

2008 UK Report

A 2008 United Kingdom report by the Department for Business, Energy, and Regulatory Reform (DBERR) found that a combination of loans, grants, and incentives could lead to nearly 10m microgeneration systems being installed by 2020, generating as much electricity in a year as five nuclear power stations and saving 30 million tonnes of CO2 – the equivalent of nearly 5% of all UK electricity. To spur development the report recommended a "feed-in" tariff scheme that would reward people who invest in making their own electricity for feeding excess power into the national grid, and 50% grants to help meet the high initial cost of equipment and installation (or, alternatively, low-interest "soft loans" payable over 25 years).[4]

Articles and resources

Related SourceWatch articles

References

  1. "What is microgeneration?" James Keirstead, September 13, 2005
  2. Julia Simpkins,"Microgeneration: An Overview: How Families and Businesses Can Generate Their Own Power" Suite101.com, January 22, 2008
  3. Jeremy Harrison,"Microgeneration Technologies" Microgeneration, accessed December 2009
  4. John Vidal,"Microgeneration could rival nuclear power, report shows" Guardian UK, June 2, 2008

External resources

Comparison of Fossil Fuels and Nuclear Power: http://www.ieer.org/ensec/no-1/comffnp.html

External articles