Eco-building V: Microgeneration

We’re all pretty clear on the need to incorporate renewable energy sources in our homes. Producing your own green energy, also called microgeneration, has many advantages. For every unit of electricity you generate, you reduce your energy bill and more importantly reduce CO2 and greenhouse emissions. Domestic solar panels are a good example of this concept (see Chispa April-May 2008), and countries such as the UK are supporting this strategy as the government has calculated it could save the country 5% of the UK’s electricity consumption.
 
Small Hydropower Systems
When it comes to small-scale applications, micro hydropower systems offer better results than other renewable energies. It doesn’t take a huge river to generate the power you need, even streams have great energetic potential. Beware of upsetting your local environment when setting one of these systems up. Make the most of old flour mills, they can be renovated easily by restoring old parts and adding a small turbine.

All you need to supply the average Spanish home is:
-An approximate water flow of 2 litres/ minute
-A height difference of at least 1.5m
-A Pelton, Turgo or Banki turbine which generally combine a turbine with a generator, regulator and converter to alternate current.
-Have a look at www.saltosdelpirineo.com, their section on self-sufficient power will help you work out which turbine you need. They are all quite easy to install and generate alternate current at 220 volts so there’s no need for converters or accumulators.

Saltos del Pirineo: 973 222 636 www.saltosdelpirineo.com
 
Mini Wind Generators

Ecersa are pioneers in micro wind generators in Spain, producing small 50 kilowatt models for installations that consume most of the electricity they produce. At bornay.com you will find Inclin turbines which are used in combination with solar panels so you have power regardless of the weather. They have air generators between 600 and 6000 W.

Before rushing out to buy your new wind turbine, make sure of the following:
-find out whether there is enough wind in your area to meet your electricity needs.
-make sure there are no obstacles (such as trees) 90 m around your future turbine site.
-work out the ideal height for your turbine: the higher it is, the more electricity produced. However more height means stronger foundations amongst other things.
 
Biomass
What are biomass pellets? Wood and other forms of biomass can be pressed into pellets. Due to their low moisture content, regular shape and high density, pellets can be burned very efficiently and are relatively easy to transport. Big shops like Carrefour and Leroy Merlin are starting to sell them.

Biomass is abundant in Andalucía since left overs from farming such as olive tree trimmings, olive pits, almond shells, cotton-gin trash and forest residues, amongst other things, can be recycled.

Biomass is eco-friendly and cheap. Biomass is top of the list of petrol substitutes due to the price difference between the two: 2 kgs of pellets have the same calorific power as a litre of petrol, but cost half as much. In addition, using biomass heaters can save up to 40% in energy consumption.

To top things off, pellets are recycled left overs – what more could you ask for?

Experts recommend water heaters and heaters by:
www.thermorossi.com

Sold in Spain by Global Plastic, S.A. Tudela (Navarra)
tecnico@roth-spain.com
 
Andalusian companies that make pellets:
Agroenergética de Algodonales, en Palenciana Severaes
 
Geothermal Energy
Geothermal systems allow you to heat and cool your home both in winter and summer using the earth’s thermal stability. When combined with a geothermal pump to boost the 15º constant heat of the earth the desired temperature can be easily set. Geothermal systems can create savings of up to 75% in heating, hot water and air conditioning. The Clivet WRHN is only 80 cm high and perfect for most homes.
 
Grants
Agencia Andaluza de la Energia
954 78 63 35
C/ Isaac Newton s/n, Isla de la Cartuja, Sevilla

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