Quality renewable energy devices do not come cheap. Normally one is looking at least £2000-3000 to install PV modules that will produce notable amount of electricity and dent your electricity bill. Wind turbines are even more expensive, particularly those that work. The performing turbines are in the higher price bracket and could at least cost over £35000 (10 kW capacity). With governments grants and feed in tariff drying up, the question is, are Renewables still a feasible option?
In this article few way will be explored shows how investment in renewables still makes sense and how can it be done cheaply.
Find off-season deals
Many PV and Solar water Heater sellers and installers provide cheap deals during the winter months. This is a way for the suppliers to maintain an even cash flow. During the cold season, with low sun people are not looking into buying renewable equipment. The demand goes down and so do the prices. So the first advice is, if you are looking to buy new equipment, than look for it during winter.
Go for older models
Renewable technology is evolving rapidly. This means that old devices are replaced with new ones very often. A PV module that has 16% efficiency will rapidly lose ground to a module that is 18% efficient. And so the price for older models also goes down substantially. PV modules last for 25-30 year so it does make sense to invest in one that has the highest efficiency however, one can purchase the older slightly less efficient panels for almost 2/3 of the price. Meaning there is still value for customer buying the older models. Same is the case for wind turbines.
One can also find second hand wind turbines sold on websites like ebay that are available for less than a thirds of the original price.
As discussed earlier, the bigger the wind turbine purchased the better its performance. The gains go up exponentially. Similarly, when it comes to buying large scale anaerobic digesters or starting a solar farm, the up- front cost can be prohibitive for an individual. If however a group of people pool in money and share the gains than making investment is much easier. Many utility companies also provide options to the community to purchase wind turbines in their wind farm. This model has proven immensely successful in Denmark, where the investment in renewables has not only satisfied the green enthusiasts but also provided monetary gains. Living green and living cheaply does not have to be mutually exclusive.
Buy to sell
It is well known to developers and estate agents that properties that have higher green credentials not only sell easily but also sell at a premium. A house with solar panels on the roof top can have it resale value increase by 5-10%. Therefore it makes economic sense to install solar panels on a property, even just to sell it on. Not only it will sell quicker and would recoup the costs but will also return handsome dividends.
Another options to get into renewables is “Doing it yourself”. There are kits available for solar hot water panels, wind turbines and PV modules. All it requires is assembly which can be done easily if one has some “handy man” experience. Care must be exercised when handling electrical equipment. Installation of Solar devices on roof tops is also not advisable unless proper training is received. Laying out panels in your back yard should not be a big problem.
A good way of saving money is making your own solar panels. The panels in the market can be double the price compared to the ones that can be made at home. Solar cells are available at 1/10th of the price for a particular panel capacity. All one needs is some tabbing wires and some experience with soldering. Glass cover and blocking diodes (to prevent reverse bias) and Perspex sheet can be purchased separately. A solar panel of 200W capacity that in the market can cost between £120 -£200 can be easily made at home for around £50.
It is often the the case that people living in the city are not short of cash but are definitely short of space. The opposite is true for farmers living in the country side and the suburbs. There have been schemes set up by the local council and environmental bodies to help connect the cash rich with the space rich. The people in the city with money are often driven by their environmental consciousness. The farmers on the other hand have ample space and can do with monetary benefits from energy sales to the grid. It is a win win situation. Detail on a similar idea can be found on this link.
Depending upon the national policy and the size of installation, it may be cheaper to import renewable energy equipment from countries like China or India. The cost of manufacture in US and Germany is much higher and also reflects in the price. Often the product of same specs but a less renowned company name is available for a much lower price. Sunpower, Gamesa, Vestas, Siemens and GE products are top notch. These companies however also charge a premium for their badge which make their products expensive. On the other hand there are companies like Goldwind that are one of biggest in the world and yet relatively unknown in the western world. Products from such companies are both reliable and less costly.
Sustainable living does not need to be about Solar and Wind energy alone. There are a range of other options available that can help reduce your carbon footprint and generate cash. Heat pumps for instance can bring huge amount of savings. Similarly Bio-diesel can be produced almost at no cost using waste oil. It should be noted that waste cooking oil can be collected from your local food take -aways, restaurants, diners etc. This can be easily converted to Bio-diesel with the addition of a few chemicals. In the UK, production of 2000 litres of Bio Diesel is allowed before any levy is implemented.
Before looking to generate energy, one must always strive to conserve energy first. Therefore loft insulation is much more important than putting up a solar panel on the property. It is hoped that this article will help green energy enthusiasts to enter the world of sustainable living.
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