With the looming energy crisis many people have been asking whether or not it’s feasible to generate your own electricity at home?
So, what is the answer?
Of course you can and thanks to the rise of renewable energy systems like solar, wind power and biomass boilers, it’s arguably easier than ever to achieve.
Thankfully, there’s also various forms of support from the UK government available too and in this guide we’ll discuss your options, potential routes of funding and answer some very common questions, including can you power your entire home, year round?
Can you generate your own electricity?
In the current year, it’s probably easier than ever to generate your own electricity via renewable technologies.
In fact, the UK is generating more electricity using low carbon sources than ever before and in 2019, the country generated more power from renewables than from fossil fuels for the first time since the Industrial Revolution.
Of course, much of this is done at scale by so-called wind farms and solar farms, but it’s also possible to do this on a smaller scale, sometimes called “microgeneration”,
Microgeneration is essentially the production of energy on a small scale to meet the needs of a small community or individual.
So, how can you do this and achieve microgeneration for your own home?
Methods of Generating Electricity For Your Home
First things first, it’s important to understand what options are available and also be aware of their potential limitations.
Solar Technology for Energy Production
Solar technology, specifically photovoltaics or PV for short has come a long way and is commonly installed via solar panels on your roof.
Solar harnesses the power of the sun so is free energy, allowing you to power many appliances in your home, as well as cooling and heating.
In theory, solar energy should be able to provide your home with all the power it needs for the entire year, however, solar has a few limitations you should be aware of.
Firstly, the solar panels should have maximum exposure to the sun year round, otherwise they’ll struggle to generate adequate amounts of energy.
That means your property/roof should ideally be south facing and should not be shrouded by obstructions like trees and shrubbery.
Additionally, even though your solar panels will generate electricity, it is unlikely to all be used by yourself. The sun is obviously only out during the day, so if you are not at home, it will be fed into the grid so that it can be used by somebody else.
A potential way to tackle this issue is to use your panels in conjunction with a battery storage system, or a system to channel the surplus energy to heat your hot water.
Wind Power for Electricity Microgeneration
Like solar panels, wind power harnesses another force of nature i.e. the wind, which blows and causes turbines to spin and generate electricity.
You can harness the power of the wind and generate energy for your home by installing a wind turbine on your property.
Just like solar, wind turbines are not appropriate for all areas, for instance, if your property is surrounded by other buildings and trees, it’s unlikely to harness enough wind to make it a worthwhile investment.
The ideal location for a wind turbine is a very clear area e.g. a rural location with very few buildings and blockades from the wind.
Similar to solar panels, wind power is only viable when their is wind to move the turbine, therefore at times of low wind, you will need to buy power from the grid as you usually would.
Biomass Boilers for Energy Generation
Biomass systems or boilers is essentially a giant boiler than burns “biomass”, which includes wood pellets, logs and chips.
They are also sometimes called wood-fuelled boilers and in order to install one you will need a significant amount of outdoor space for the biomass system itself and a storage shed for the biomass fuel you will be using.
Can you generate enough energy to escape the grid?
In theory yes you can, but the amount of investment needed to get there may make it out of the reach for most people. It’s also not without it’s limitations.
For instance, you would likely need to have multiple forms of renewable energy installed meaning you need a viable plot of land that is both large enough and has the optimum conditions.
Additionally, if you are thinking about living off-grid or disconnecting from the grid, you would also need to consider back-up power options. For instance, a back-up power generator and/or a battery storage system.
However, the reality is that back-up generators use fossil fuels, so you would still be reliant on an external fuel source. Battery storage systems are also not 100% efficient and it currently much more efficient to rely on the existing electricity grid to store and manage your power.
What Financial Support is Available?
If you are interested in installing renewables in your home and generating your own electricity, you may be surprised to learn that there is financial support available from the UK government.
Formally, a domestic grant was available called the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) but this closed to new applications on the 31st March 2022.
It was replaced by the Boiler Upgrade Scheme (BUS). This new scheme is available to help households in England and Wales install low carbon heating systems, such as heat pumps and biomass boilers.
The BUS Scheme Key Facts:
- The scheme runs until 2025.
- You need to own your own property.
- Have a valid Energy Performance Certificate.
For more information about the BUS scheme, you can refer to this detailed government leaflet.