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Delivering Renewable Energy Solutions for the Real World

RV Energy is committed to delivering renewable fuel power generation projects throughout the United Kingdom, ensuring the growing demands of consumers can be met in an environmentally sustainable way.  Unlike alternative power generation methods such as wind and solar, RV Energy projects utilise proven technology that can supply to the grid 24/7, ensuring there is enough power delivered to homes and businesses when it is needed most, regardless of the weather.

 

 

What is Electricity and How is it Generated?

In very simple terms, when we plug a household appliance into a socket, charged particles (specifically electrons) will flow through the copper wire.  We are able to use the energy contained in this flow, or current, to generate heat; light; and magnetic fields: all the things we need to power our electronic devices.  The process of power generation is inducing the flow of electrons in the first place.

In a motor, wire is coiled tightly around a magnet: as the electrons move through the wire they create a magnetic field that induces the central magnet to rotate.  This rotation can be used to move an electric car, rotate the drum of a washing machine, or turn the wheels of industry.  The principal methods of power generation use the exact reverse of this process: kinetic (movement) energy is used to turn a magnet to induce the flow of electrons within the coiled wire.  This flow is then fed into the national grid and distributed to homes and businesses nationwide.  

The most common form of power generation is to heat water and produce steam, much like a big kettle.  The change of state between liquid and gas makes steam extremely energetic: power stations are able to funnel steam and use its kinetic energy to turn a giant fan, or turbine, which in turn rotates a magnet used to generate electrical current.  The only difference between traditional methods of power generation is the fuel used heat the steam.

Traditionally we have combusted fossil fuels such as coal; oil; and gas, but the resulting release of carbon (previously contained in the ground for tens of millions of years) which has driven global warming.  In any case, fossil fuels are running out and are not a long term solution for the UK's power generating needs: we need a sustainable, clean, reliable, and cost effective solution to power the future.

Sources of Fuel

 

Coal  

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The product of compressing organic matter over tens of millions of years, coal is the most easily accessible of the fossil fuels and was used to power the industrial revolution.  After being stored in the ground for aeons, releasing this fossilised carbon into the atmosphere upsets the delicate balance of the carbon cycle.

At one time the UK was a net exporter of coal, but for many decades it has been cheaper to import coal from South America and Africa than to mine domestically.  A number of coal fired power stations still operate in the UK but, given the finite resource and environmental impact, it is unlikely that more will be built in the future.

 

Nuclear

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Nuclear power stations harness the excess heat generated during nuclear decay to boil water and generate steam, just like traditional fossil fuel power plants.  Whilst no carbon is released into the atmosphere, radioactive materials can be difficult to contain and the resulting wastes remain harmful for thousands of years.  

The process of containing radioactive waste; decommissioning radioactive plants; and reprocessing fissile materials, make nuclear power extremely expensive over the lifetime of a plant.  


Biomass

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Biomass incorporates any combustable organic material.  Whilst carbon is released back into the atmosphere during the incineration of solid biomass fuels, unlike fossil fuels the long-run carbon cycle is not adversely affected: if a crop is harvested, a new one is planted.  

Examples of biomass can include wood and agricultural waste, in addition to organic municipal waste.  RV Energy believe biomass is the future of power generation, providing sustainable, reliable, and cost effective energy for consumers with minimum environmental impact.  If you would like to learn more about RV Energy, please click here.

 

Gas

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Benefiting from plentiful North Sea reserves, in the 1980's the UK began to replace ageing coal fired power stations with Gas Turbine generation plants.  Whilst significantly cleaner and less environmentally harmful than coal, the use of gas in power production still releases carbon into the atmosphere that has been stored underground for millions of years, driving global warming.  

Today, gas is playing an important role in propping up wind power generation: as the UK becomes more reliant upon wind energy it is necessary to provide a redundancy to supply the grid when the "wind doesn't blow".  To this end, the government has begun a programme of subsidising the construction of small, inefficient, gas power generators.  Using what are basically truck engines turning small generators, these units supply the grid when wind cannot.

 

Wind & Solar

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A clean way to generate electricity, unlike traditional power generation wind power generation "converts" energy from one form (kinetic) directly to electricity.  This type of green energy is great for the environment, but it comes at a cost: installation of wind turbine infrastructure is extremely expensive and the maintenance costs are high.

It is currently uneconomic for wind energy to supply homes and businesses at current wholesale rates and so their installation and continued operation relies upon sizeable government subsidy.  Regardless, wind energy has a significant flaw: if the wind doesn't blow, power cannot be generated, leading to a resurgence in the construction of gas power generation sites (see left).

Much like wind, solar is a conversion technology converting light energy to electricity.  There has been significant development in solar technology in recent years, but given the UK climate it is only able to provide a small supply to the grid (and only when the sun shines).