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Renewable Energy

Main technologies


Generating power from wind essentially involves harnessing the power in moving air.

Wind power has been used for hundreds of years – with sailing ships and windmills, for example.

The UK has the largest potential wind energy resource in Europe – onshore and offshore – and it is one of the most developed and cost-effective renewable energy technologies.

There are two major offshore wind farms planned for the English Channel which could provide business opportunities for local firms. Click here for further information from the Crown Estate.


Marine energy includes wave and tidal energy. The wave regime around the Island is small compared to many other parts of the UK and it is unlikely that it will become a location for wave energy generation. However, there are strong tidal currents around the Island, particularly at Hurst Narrows and off St. Catherine’s and there is a good chance that the Island can be involved in both the testing and development of tidal stream devices and the generation of commercial-scale tidal energy.

Click here to see the Tidal Energy Resource Atlas for the South East region .


Hydroelectric power is the energy derived from flowing water. This can be from rivers or from man-made installations, where water flows from a high-level reservoir down through a tunnel and away from a dam.

Turbines placed within the flow of water extract its kinetic energy and convert it to mechanical energy. This causes the turbines to rotate at high speed, driving a generator that converts the mechanical energy into electrical energy. The amount of hydroelectric power generated depends on the water flow and the vertical distance (known as ‘head’) the water falls through.

The Environment Agency has recently produced maps showing potential sites for hydro schemes and has given permission for the information relating to the island to be reproduced here. Please note that these documents are Copyright Environment Agency 2010.

Click here for the Isle of Wight Hydro opportunities map

Click here for the Isle of Wight Hydro sites power and sensitivity categories


Solar energy can be captured through photovoltaic (PV) cells and converted into electricity or through solar panels which heat water. In both cases, solar systems are most efficient if they face a southerly direction and are mounted at an optimal angle.

To date, solar systems in the UK have generally been very small in output, but the recently announced Feed-in-Tariffs apply to systems up to 5 MW output and it is therefore possible that very large PV systems will soon be installed in the UK.


Geothermal energy refers to the different types of thermal energy stored within the earth.

The distribution of heat below the Earth’s surface varies greatly from place to place. In some geological areas heat from deep within the earth’s interior can rise close to the surface. For example, if water enters fissures in suitably hot rocks it can emerge on the surface.

In Southampton, a geothermal system harvests hot water at 74 degrees centigrade from a depth of 1.7 km below the City. This is used as part of a Combined Heat & Power (CHP) system which distributes hot and chilled water through 11 km of insulated pipes to hundreds of domestic and business customers.

Click here for further information on the Southampton Geothermal CHP System.

Parts of the Island have similar geology to that in Southampton and deep geothermal energy could therefore be a possible energy source in the future.


Biomass is biological material derived from living, or recently living, organisms. In the context of renewable energy, it usually refers to plant-based materials which have recently absorbed CO2 from the atmosphere. Biomass is considered to be a carbon neutral fuel because the CO2 released when it is burnt is equivalent to the CO2 absorbed during growth. This means that there is no net increase in atmospheric CO2 levels as long as biomass sources are properly managed.

The Isle of Wight Council has recently commissioned a report which identifies the total biomass resource available on the Island. Click here for further details 

There is currently a 200 kW biomass (wood chip) boiler operating at Parkhurst Prison with plans announced for biomass systems at Pan Meadows and Cowes High School. All of these provide hot water for heating.

Waitrose hopes to install a biomass-fired Combined Cooling, Heat & Power (CCHP) plant at its new store in East Cowes and plans have been announced for a 49MW biomass-fired power station in the Medina Valley.
Further information on Biomass Energy is available at the Biomass Energy Centre.