Many people want to generate electricity themselves not only to save money. Environmental aspects and independence from electricity suppliers are often central to the decision. What options are there?
Small wind power plants, photovoltaic or mini block heat and power plants: There are various possibilities how to generate electricity yourself
Generating electricity yourself – in view of rising electricity prices an alternative that more and more people are thinking about. There are various ways to generate electricity yourself. Usually, however, a major investment is required first, which only pays off after a while. If you want to protect the environment and the climate in the first place, the first step is to switch to a green electricity provider.
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A calculation in the long run
Generating electricity yourself can be cheaper in the long run than buying electricity from the utility. This is ensured by low operating costs and subsidies as well as the feed-in tariff. Self-generated electricity is often fed into the public grid, for which there is a feed-in tariff. Depending on how the clean electricity is produced, the remuneration varies. The Federal Ministry of Economics and Energy, among others, provides information on current subsidy programmes.
Generating electricity yourself with a solar system
Solar power is generated by photovoltaics, systems in the private sector are usually installed on the roofs of houses. Generating electricity with solar energy is a particularly environmentally friendly option, which is also subsidised by the state. Whether the relatively high initial investment is worthwhile must be calculated in each individual case. If you want to generate electricity yourself with photovoltaics, it depends on whether the location is suitable for this, because the solar radiation is not sufficient at every location.
Power generation can also be started with smaller solar panels and expanded later. Combinations of several techniques are also possible. For example, a solar system and a heat pump can complement each other. If once more electricity is generated by the solar system than is needed, the heat pump can be operated with the remaining electricity. Solutions such as these or possibilities to store solar power are still in demand.
There are funding opportunities for photovoltaic systems. The level of the feed-in tariff for solar systems remains in place for twenty years after commissioning.
Generating electricity with a mini wind power plant
Even with small wind turbines you can generate electricity yourself. However, the market for this is somewhat confusing, there are hardly any certifications and many different sizes and power ratings. A small wind turbine also produces vibrations and possibly disturbing noises. It is therefore mainly suitable for very remote locations. Depending on the federal state, different rules have to be observed and the turbines are only really effective if they are installed where there is enough wind. Nevertheless, even in Germany there are more and more consumers who generate their own electricity with small wind turbines. Here too, electricity can be fed into the grid. The feed-in tariff is based on the rates laid down in the Renewable Energy Sources Act (EEG).
Generating electricity in a hybrid house
The term “hybrid house” can be understood in a very similar way to the term “hybrid car” in terms of energy production. Here, two technologies play a role in energy generation. In most cases, renewable energies form the basis here as well. This can be, for example, the combination of a heat pump for heat generation with a solar system for electricity generation. But there are also variants that combine wind power and solar energy. The big goal behind this form of hybrid house is electricity self-sufficiency, i.e. complete independence from the electricity distributed via the public networks. Whether state subsidies are also possible here must be examined in detail.
Combined heat and power units in private cellars
The principle of combined heat and power generation uses mini cogeneration units that can be installed in your own cellar. These plants generate heat and electricity and are particularly efficient because hardly any energy is lost through waste heat. With a mini cogeneration unit you can generate electricity yourself from various fuels. Oil, gas or even renewable raw materials such as wood pellets can be burned. Here too, it must be carefully examined whether this way of generating electricity yourself is economical in individual cases.
The same applies to mini-block heating plants: electricity fed into the grid is remunerated. The Combined Heat and Power Act applies to generation using fossil fuels. If regenerative materials such as wood pellets or biogas are used, the level of remuneration is again laid down in the EEG.
Dancing, chewing and cycling for electricity
Again and again there are also unusual research approaches and ideas with which electricity is to be generated. For example, for some years now, there have been discos in which energy is generated by means of the piezo effect when dancing. Here the dance floor consists of special modules connected to a generator that converts the energy generated by movement into electricity. The amount of energy generated in this way can be used to drive the lighting on the dance floor, for example.
The company “Billions in Charge” is also about generating energy through movement, but with a bicycle. The special thing about this power-generating bicycle is that it should be designed to produce enough electricity to be useful to a household. With similar concepts, only a very small amount of electricity has been generated so far.
Curious is a project at the School of Higher Technology (ÉTS) in Montreal (Canada). Here scientists were researching how electricity can be generated while chewing. For this purpose, a chin strap made of piezoelectric composite fiber (PFC) was attached to electric ear muffs. The movement of PFC then generates electrical voltage.