Future-Proofing Care Homes with Renewable Energy
Energy security of supply and greenhouse gas emissions are two key policy issues for global governments, and a source of increasing concern for the general population. Years of depleting fossil fuels for energy production means that stocks are low, and the environment has become compromised through damaging greenhouse gas emissions. A reliance on fossil fuel imports from countries with political instability also puts the UK in a potentially difficult footing and increases uncertainty of supply. And consumers are grappling with the challenge of ever-rising fuel costs and the uncertainty around future bills. So what is the alternative?
The Benefits of Renewable Energy
Renewable energy has been touted as a solution for some years, but real strides in its development and adoption have only become notable recently, driven by concerted global initiatives to stimulate supportive policies and drive investment into clean and green energy sources. Renewable energy sources include wind power, solar energy, hydropower, biomass, anaerobic digestion, geothermal energy and more. Some of these power sources have been in use for many hundreds of years in some form or another, such as hydropower. Others, such as solar energy, are relatively new and rely on technological innovation and the investment to stimulate such strides.
Renewable energies are, as their name suggests, blessed with fuel inputs that constantly renew themselves and which do not cause damage to the environment unlike fossil fuels, which release dangerous greenhouse gas emissions such as C02 when burned, and which are non-renewable. Some renewable forms of energy also offer incredible potential. For example, if mankind could tap into the full power of things such as solar, geothermal and hydropower, they would have more energy on tap than the world could ever use.
Practical Applications of Renewable Energy
All businesses and homes can potentially benefit from the cost savings, carbon savings and energy-security benefits of renewable energy sources, with some sectors being particularly suitable to reap the rewards. An interesting report from the Carbon Trust showed recently that in the UK care homes are a particularly strong candidate for the benefits. Why is this? Because care homes are an example of a service which is energy-intensive. As with hospitals and some other public buildings, care homes require 24-hour lighting and heating at consistently high levels.
So how can these consistently high levels of demand be satisfied in an energy-efficiency way? Project co-ordinators have been working to encourage care homes to embrace more sustainable energy measures to cut their costs and carbon emissions by embracing clean and green technologies. An example would be for a care home to invest in a solar thermal collector or rooftop PV system, a biomass system for wood fuel heating or even a wind turbine if the site owned associated land. Ground source heat and air source heat are other options, as are biomethane boiler systems. Alongside this, measures to improve insulation, optimise fuel usage and use more efficient boiler systems can rapidly improve efficiencies and cut costs and waste.
All of these measures are possible, and they are encouraged by a government policy that also allows users of renewable energy to benefit from an additional income by selling back any extra energy they produce into the national grid. This could make renewables even more attractive to care homes, offering the chance to cut their utility bills, gain energy security of supply, operate in a more carbon-friendly manner and even gain an additional income via the government’s feed-in tariff or renewable heat incentive.