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Decrypting Energy Terminology, What does Watt mean?

Posted on Jan 26, 2014 by  | Tags: renewable energy, green energy, energy consumption, scotland  | 0 Comments

When it comes to renewable energy, one of its most confusing aspects is terminology. You may be asking yourself, how large is a 4MW Wind Farm? What is the difference between kWh and kW? What is the relationship between kW, MW and GW? How much energy am I likely to produce from a renewable energy source on my own land? This blog will try and give some perspective to it all. 

One key step in the right direction is understanding the difference between energy production and energy consumption. Energy is produced/generated in any number of Watts (the measurement of Power); however it is consumed/used at a number of Watts over time or. In other words, it is consumed at a rate of Kilowatt Hours (kWh). For example your electricity bill is charged by the number of kWh you consume. A 60W light bulb will consume 60W of power in one hour, and therefore 0.6kWh.

Of course, depending upon the scale of the energy production and/or consumption, it can be difficult to get a grasp of kW’s, MW’s and even GW’s of energy generated! Below sets out the units of measurement commonly used and their relative values: - 

1 kW = 1,000 Watts

1MW = 1,000 kW

1GW = 1,000 MW

To help try and put these units of measurement into perspective, Scotland has a current installed renewable energy capacity of 1.3 Gigawatts (GW). This, as I mentioned above, means that every hour in Scotland, renewable energy is generating 1.3GWh worth of electricity. It has, on latest estimates, a further potential of around 36.5GW of wind and 7.5GW of tidal power still to be harnessed. 

Bringing the scale down slightly, the average home in the UK will consume around 4,500kWh per year or around 12kWh per day or around 500W per hour. An average small wind turbine around Edinburgh may produce 19,000kWh per year, 52kWh per day or 2kWh per hour (although this would obviously change dependent upon varying wind speeds in any particular area). In the ever increasing small scale hydro market in Scotland, a hydro scheme on your average small burn may produce 50kW of power at the lower end of the scale.

With these figures in mind, Scotland’s renewable energy potential is huge, and the future is extremely exciting for all industries involved in the area. 

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