Renewable Electricity Generation & Battery Storage

Renewable electricity generation and energy systems can be an incredible resource for an individual household, as it can also be for the UK to achieve a low carbon National Grid. 50% of household electricity needs can be generated from solar panels, with the potential there to take a home completely off grid by using a mixture of systems.  

Renewable electricity generation: a starting point

Here you will learn about solar photovoltaic panels and wind energy, as well as battery storage. As a first step in understanding these systems, you will need to understand the following terms: 

kWp: Renewable electricity systems are spoken about in kilowatt peak, referred to herein as kWp.  This is the amount of energy a system can generate in perfect conditions over a single hour.

kWh: This refers to the kilowatt-hour – the measure of energy as charged for by electricity and gas suppliers. The measure is also used to determine the amount of energy a system may generate and how much energy a battery system may store.  Unfortunately, you will never be paid as much for a kilowatt-hour generated from your own renewable energy system as you will be paying to an energy supplier.

Photovoltaics: electricity from solar panels

Photovoltaic (PV) panels are by far the most common method of domestic scale renewable electricity generation. They can generate 50% of the electrical needs of a household, whilst cutting bills and generating electricity to the value of £450 a year.  

They are relatively simple to install. However, the position and angle of the panels needed to achieve optimum sunlight are key to them working economically.  PV panels will generate most of their energy in the summer, but will still generate in winter and will also generate on cloudy days, albeit at a lower output.

Annual benefits of solar panels

A typical PV array would be between 2 and 4 kWp (with a single solar panel generating between 0.27 and 0.4kWp).  A 4kWp system can generate around 3,800 kWh of renewable electricity a year (UK average) and it will save around 1,500 kg of carbon dioxide per year.  

Savings on the electricity bill by producing your own power (rather than buying power from the grid) is roughly £250 per annum. This figure will vary according to location and how much energy you actually use at home during daylight hours.

Pay back periods for solar energy

Since the closure of the FIT (feed in tariff) a new export mechanism has come into force from January 2020 called the SEG (Smart Export Guarantee). This will pay around 5p per kWh electricity traded. Thus a 4kWp system is likely to generate in the region of £200 per year SEG.  A 4kWp system costs around £6,200 to install (including VAT at 5%) and therefore a £6,200 installation will pay for itself within 12-15 years.

Photovoltaic systems are coming down in price quickly and often overdeliver, so it is worthwhile exploring options.  Some members of our community have managed to see their investments in solar pay back within 8-9 years, as panels have delivered above expectations.

Wind turbine energy

Wind turbines use blades to capture energy when they are forced into motion by the wind. This motion drives a turbine which generates renewable electricity, and the more wind there is, resultantly the more electricity there is being produced.

There are a number of small wind solutions available to homeowners. These are either pole mounted, which are 5-6kWp, or building mounted systems which are 1-2kWp.

Pole mounted systems cost between £9,000 and £30,000 for installation, but can generate up to 9,000kWh a year, annually saving 3.4t CO2.  The building mounted systems are less efficient than this.  

There are useful resources on the Energy Savings Trust on How to Measure Wind Speed and Choosing a site and getting planning permissions.

Renewable electricity and energy management

Managing energy as part of a renewable energy system can make a very big difference to the pay back of these systems.  This is due to the difference in price which you as a consumer pay for electricity and what you as a supplier will be paid for selling your electricity into the grid.   If you are able to use more of the electricity you generate, then the value derived from your system is maximised

As part of the management process, try monitoring your energy usage alongside your energy generation. This can make a big difference, and as a result you may wish to wash clothes or use a dishwasher during high output periods.  You may also want to use your renewable electricity to heat your home, meaning that storage heaters or heat pumps may draw in energy during peak production periods.

It is also possible to store renewable electricity through battery storage or even through electric vehicles, with the potential to then sell this energy back to the grid.

Battery storage and renewable electricity

Most Solar PV systems result in around 50% of energy being exported, but by installing a battery you will use 80-90% of the energy created.  Using the example above of a 4kWh system, you can use around £500 worth of the energy generated. You should note that this would mean the pay back from selling energy would come to you more slowly – for a period closer to 12 years. You would also have to install a battery, which carries additional cost.

There are numerous battery storage providers.  Getting a battery that suits the usage of your house is important as most houses do not use more than 2.5kWh a day. Therefore a battery does not need to be much larger than being able to fulfil that requirement.  The cost of installing a battery is between £4,000 and £7,500, with most only having a 10 year product warranty.

In most cases this makes installing a battery uneconomic.  However, with battery storage costs falling, this is something worthwhile exploring when getting a quote for home renewable electricity systems.

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Community referrals

Aissac Electrical & Solar
AGMS Independent Energy, Buckinghamshire, Cambridgeshire, Hertfordshire and Northamptonshire.
Spirit Energy, and SouthSolar PV, Battery Storage, EV Charging, Consultancy
Micro-Renewable Solutions, Oxfordshire, Hampshire, Surrey and Wiltshire
Cambridge Solar Ltd
Naked Solar PV, Battery Storage, EV Charging
ZLC Energy PV, Battery Storage, Heating Systems, EV Charging
Happy Energy
GreenGenUK Limited
T4 Sustainability Ltd PV, Battery Storage, Heating Systems
Sunfarming UK Ltd and South WestSolar PV, Battery Storage, EV Charging
SunGift Energy and South WestSolar PV, Battery Storage, EV Charging
Aran Services Ltd
Energie Solutions
Eternal Energy Systems Ltd
East Anglia Renewables Ltd T/A Eco East Anglia Anglia
Greenscape Energy Ltd Anglia
Solstice Energy Ltd PV, Battery Storage, EV Charging
Green Shop Solar, Wiltshire, Worcestershire and OxfordshireSolar PV, Battery Storage, EV Charging
Solarkinetics Ltd PV, Battery Storage, EV Charging
Solinvictus PV, Battery Storage, EV Charging
Sunuser Limited and Surrounding AreaSolar PV, Battery Storage, EV Charging
UK Alternative Energy PV, Battery Storage, Heating Systems, EV Charging
Treadlighter PV, Battery Storage, EV Charging
So Go Solar Ltd and South EastSolar PV, Battery Storage
Solar Star Power Limited PV, Battery Storage
Greenshop Solar
Northburn Solar
Peak Power Systems Ltd
Pure Solar Ltd T/A Pure Renewables East
Athena Electrical Ltd London
Perfect Sense Energy West
Hero Renewables Ltd West
Exeo Energy Ltd
Sims Solar Ltd PV, Battery Storage
Oxford Solar PV of Better Century: Solar PV, Battery Storage, EV Charging
R-ECO The Renewable Energy Co-operative
Green Home Energy Services, Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, WIltshire and GloucestershireEnergy efficiency of homes, renewable heating and renewable energy support and surveying
AD Heating Ltd
Anderson Floor Warming And Renewables
Perthshire Biofuels
Navitas Solar Installations Ltd PV, Battery Storage, EV Charging
The Solar Electrician Ltd, West MidlandsSolar PV, Battery Storage, EV Charging
Total Renewable Solutions PV, Battery Storage, Heating Systems
GenFIT c/o PV FIT Ltd
Joju Solar
The Good Heat Company DevonSolar PV, Battery Storage, Heating Systems
Chelsfield Solar EastSolar PV
Ecovolt Environment East
Solarfit WalesSolar PV, Battery Storage, Heating Systems
Current Energy Solutions Ltd WestSolar PV
Rudge Energy WestSolar PV, Battery Storage
Mole Energy WestSolar PV, Battery Storage, EV Charging
1 World Solar West
MIG Renewable Technologies Ltd West
Navitas Sustainable Heating Systems Limited West
H2ecO Ltd West
Ecocetera Limited West, WalesSolar PV, Battery Storage
Solar Voltaics PV, Battery Storage, EV Charging
Solar UK Ltd PV, Battery Storage, Heating Systems
Sussex Solar, Surrey, Kent and HampshireSolar PV, Battery Storage, Heating Systems
Save Money Cut Carbon WidePartner of Better Century: The go-to people for homes and organisations to reduce energy and water bills.
Super Homes WideProvide case studies of amazing homes
Parity Projects WideProvide consultancy and advice on retrofitting buildings
Green Building Store WidePartner of Better Century: Products and support for energy efficient homes and buildings. Triple glazed windows & doors, MVHR ventilation, airtightness & insulation.
Energy Saving Trust WideImpartial advice to save energy
Trina Solarhttps://www.trinasolar.comUK Wide
Tonik Energy WidePartner of Better Century
AES Ltd Wide
Solarsense UK WideSolar PV, Battery Storage, EV Charging, Heating Systems
Synergy Power Ltd MidlandsSolar PV, Battery Storage, EV Charging
PV Renewable Energy LTD, Danbury and Maldon Essex

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