The renewable heat incentive is a UK government scheme designed to provide financial support that encourages us to switch from using fossil fuel such as gas oil or coal to renewable heat sources such as air, water or wood fuel in our homes and businesses.

So what are the options? There are many eligible technologies, solar power, wind power, geothermal power, biomass, compressed natural gas, nuclear power and wave or tidal power to name just a few.

Solar power is probably the most widely known and fastest growing technology, but it also comes with a lot of bad press. It is thought that if you live in a less sunny climate then this type of renewable heat won’t be very efficient. This is not the case as on a cloudy day sun rays will still get through and the modern solar panels are far more efficient. You do need quite a few panels to supply enough household energy and they need to be installed in the right orientation, in other words facing the sun for the longest time possible.

Geothermal energy is a very cost effective, reliable efficient and powerful way to extract a renewable energy from the earth’s natural processes. It is one of the oldest forms of energy as it has been used for heating and bathing since roman times. The name “geothermal comes from two Greek words “geo” means “earth” and “thermal” means “heat”. These days it’s great for generating electrify on a small scale as well as a large scale. In small scale say for one home a geothermal heat pump will do the trick but for large scale a geothermal power plant would be necessary. Recently with technological advances, you can use this energy for heating homes. It works by using the natural heat found underground. The center of the earth is around 6000 degrees Celsius and even just a few kilometres down the temperature can be over 250 degrees Celsius. It works by using ground source heat pumps. Water is usually pumped through pipes down into the earth, as it returns back to the earth it is warmer that it started.

Biomass energy is where recently dead biological material is used. Dead biomass materials include dead trees, branches, hedge clippings, wood chips, leaves, animal wastes, waste paper etc. Heat and electricity are generated during biomass energy production. Biomass is composed of organic material obtained mainly from plants and animals. Carbon is the main constituent of biomass energy but others include nitrogen, oxygen, hydrogen, heavy metals and alkaline. Biomass energy production does come with its down side as it can release greenhouse gases into the atmosphere when burned, but in far smaller amounts than the burning of fossil fuels releases.

Part 2 of this article talks about compressed natural gas, nuclear power and wave or tidal power.

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