Low & Zero Carbon Technologies

Page last updated 28th February, 2010 by Corny

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Solar Thermal
In the UK solar water heating can only deliver around 50-60% of year round water heating. In the summer months, 90% of the hot water needs of a typical home may be met by these systems can provide. However, this can fall to less than 20% in winter.

See our articles on solar hot water systems here

Get some fast facts on solar energy - solar facts

 Solar Photovoltaic
Photovoltaics (PV) work by converting the sun's energy into electricity using roof-mounted panels. Cheaper units convert some 5 per cent of solar energy into electricity and more efficient, and more expensive units, convert up to 18 per cent of energy received into electricity.

photovoltaic panel

See our articles on photovoltaic systems here

Ground Source Heat Pumps
A GSHP system consists of a ground source heat exchanger, heat pump, and a heat distribution system. Water is pumped through the heat exchanger that consists of pipes buried either horizontally or vertically in the ground. The water temperature present in these pipes is lower than that in the surrounding ground. As a result, heat is transferred through the pipes warming the circulated water. The captured low grade heat is transferred to a heat pump, where it is used to heat up a refrigerant. The 'warmed' refrigerant is compressed increasing its temperature. The higher temperature refrigerant in turn heats a secondary water circuit to a higher temperature.

GSHP slinky coil

See our articles on ground source heat pumps systems here

Typical COP values for GSHPs details here...

Ground heat extraction rate details here...

Borehole and thermal collector pipework details here...

Trench pipework details here...

Buffer vessel sizing details here...

Air Source Heat Pumps
These operate in a similar fashion to ground source heat pumps but use the ambient air temperature to generate heat within the home. Unlike ground energy systems the air temperature input for air source systems can vary greatly both seasonally and daily and the systems are not suited to cold winters.

air source heat pump

See our articles on air source heat pump systems here

Biomass fuel usually takes the form of wood pellets or wood chips. The burning of wood is considered to be a carbon neutral process since the CO2 released when energy is generated, is balanced by that absorbed during the fuel's production (i.e. replacement tree growth). It is most cost effective when a local fuel source is used, which also helps to reduce transport pollution which might otherwise be associated with the solid fuel.

biomass fuel

See our articles on biomass systems here

Wood chip storage capacity details here...

Wind turbines convert the wind energy into an electrical output which can be used in a property after passing through a suitable inverter unit. Care must be taken in installing these systems to ensure the property can bear the loads generated by moving turbine blades.

wind turbines

See our articles on wind power systems here

Renewable Energy Sources - We are consuming ever-increasing quantities of energy, and until now have largely depended on the burning of fossil fuels. These resources are finite, and produce large amounts of carbon dioxide when burnt to provide energy. In contrast, renewable energy sources either emit no greenhouse gases, or they are carbon neutral over their life cycle.
Renewable sources of energy are those, which are continuously available in our environment. Renewable energy sources are derived from solar radiation, geo-thermal, hydropower, biomass and wind.

UK's Commitment to Climate Change - Domestic energy use is responsible for 27% of the UK carbon dioxide emissions. The Kyoto Protocol obligates the UK to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions to 12.5% below 1990 levels by 2012, however, the UK has made a further commitment to reducing its carbon dioxide emissions to 20% below 1990 levels by 2010.
Based on a recommendation by the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution, the UK Government has also committed to cutting carbon dioxide emissions by 60% by 2050, and 80% by 2100, compared to 1990 levels.

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