When Will My business Need an EV Carport?

If you think that a carport is a luxury that your business can’t really afford, then think again. Not only can it provide cover for your brand new EV bay but it may also be able to provide valuable electricity to help run your business.

We’re moving more quickly to hybrid and all singing and dancing electric cars now. The UK government announced that it’s looking to phase out diesel and petrol vehicles over the next few decades and car manufacturers are investing a lot of time, energy and money in electric.

The simple fact is that EVs are going to be the norm rather than the exception, and it’s going to happen a lot quicker than you think.

The Future of Electric Vehicles

Manufacturers such as Volvo have indicated that they won’t be making any totally petrol driven cars by the end of the decade. Tesla in America have started producing a purely electric car aimed at the middle classes and the UK government is putting a large amount of money into developing battery technology. Even sports cars are getting the electric makeover – just look at Porsche Mission E.

It may be premature to suggest the demise of the petrol car, but the end is certainly in sight. Within the next couple of decades we’ll all be electric.

What is a Carport?

Basically, it’s a covered area that protects cars in your fleet or for your office staff. They’re not a new invention but they have been going through a transformational makeover in recent times. Not only can they be installed along with solar panels on top, they can be used as EV charging stations which help customers, staff and fleet drivers top up their batteries while parked in under cover. The good news is that you can install one quite easily and they have a lot of advantages. With more and more of us likely to own electric cars in the future, this is going to be an important asset for many businesses.

Do You Need One?

While you may not need one at the moment, they’re likely to become a standard feature for businesses and offices over the next decade or so. There are also a number of excellent benefits:

    • You can protect cars and keep them covered from the elements.
    • They can create additional roof space for installing solar PV which can be used to charge electric vehicles and even power your office.
    • They’re the perfect place to set up EV charging points for both customers and your existing fleet. You can even earn money by charging customers to top up their batteries.
  • They provide a great visual appeal as well as a much needed and valuable local utility.

If you provide a decent amount of parking space, installing a solar carport can make a big difference to your electricity spend over a long period and deliver excellent services and protection to all your staff and visitors.

How Much Do They Cost?

Carports can vary in size and the cost will obviously depend on the number of vehicles you want to cater to and the space you have. You can choose to have solar panels installed on the roof or not depending on your needs but they are increasingly becoming the must have value added extra that many businesses are looking for. When it comes to solar you need to take into account not just the cost but also the return on investment through lower electricity bills and payments through the feed in tariff. For many businesses, the combination of carport and solar is simply too good an opportunity to miss out on.

A lot will also depend on the type of charging you are going to offer. Slow charges that take between 8 and 12 hours can cost just a few thousand to install. Rapid chargers that deliver an 80% battery boost in just 30 minutes are going to cost significantly more, in some cases up to £35,000. The good news is that the Government is offering grants to businesses that install charging points – £300 for each connection up to a maximum of 20.

For businesses that have the space, installing solar carports can be prudent and strong investment in infrastructure and will provide valuable clean energy through the panels while also protecting cars and incorporating increasingly important EV charging points.

What Has the Future Got in Store for Solar PV?

solar panels

We’ve come a long way with solar. From the days when detractors bewailed that it would never work and never reach the energy efficiency levels we need to the present where it’s often difficult to walk down a street and not see panels somewhere, there’s no doubt the road has often been a little rocky.

In more recent times, costs have plummeted and the International Energy Agency has suggested that, over the next 30 years, solar could easily become the largest source of electricity around the globe:

“The two IEA technology roadmaps show how solar photovoltaic (PV) systems could generate up to 16% of the world’s electricity by 2050 while solar thermal electricity (STE) from concentrating solar power (CSP) plants could provide an additional 11%.”

At the end of 2016, we had about 302 GW of capacity installed across the globe and the potential to add a lot more. China have become the market leaders – they currently have over 78,000 MW, having installed 34,540 MW in 2016 alone. If we’re to reach the heady heights that the IEA suggests by 1950, however, a number of factors are going to need to come into play.

  1. More Investment

It’s expected that, if solar PV and solar thermal are to increase, we need to invest some $225 billion annually to develop new farms and encourage installations on rooftops and offices. This is going to be much easier for some countries than others. China, for example, has plenty of open space and the right policies in place to drive huge amounts of growth for solar farm development. The USA has the space but maybe not quite the right policies with the current government. The good news is that the cost of solar PV is coming down even more and it’s producing cheaper electricity than most fossil fuels.

  1. Storage is Key

We keep saying it at the Renewable Energy Hub but energy storage for solar is a huge game changer. The detractors for solar PV have always pointed to the intermittency of the energy production. If battery storage, both on the home and industrial scale, is developed as we expect over the next decade, you can be certain that renewables of all types will be given a big boost. It may be the reason why many investors are now putting their money into different enterprises and why the UK government recently announced that it was setting aside £246 million for research and development.

  1. Solar PV Technology

Another major factor is the efficiency of solar PV cells and how we can make them better. This is how much of the sun that hits solar cells can be converted to electricity. Most domestic panels deliver something between 10 and 20% and the cost goes up the more efficient they are. This is also compounded by the amount of sunlight that is available in the location where the array is installed and the direction your roof points in.

That’s why we generally need quite large panels to capture the suns energy. If Solar PV was developed to deliver 100% efficiency, we’d need only small ones to create all the energy we need. The record so far has been set by a university in South Australia that created a solar cell with 43% efficiency. The truth is that we’re not likely to get much above 20% for commercial panels, if that, at least not in the short term.

What may be more interesting is the cells we are creating which are no thicker than a sheet of paper that will revolutionise how we install panels. They may even switch from the rooftops to the windows, particularly for locations such as office blocks.

  1. The Renewables Mix

Another thing that is likely to change is how we combine different renewable and low carbon technologies in the future. Businesses are already offering the chance to optimise homes by installing a mix of solar along with heating systems such as air or ground source heat pumps.

There’s no doubt that countries will have their own renewable mix for delivering energy to communities and that will depend a lot on resources, size and infrastructure. How these all work together to deliver on energy needs is one of the challenges that governments, local authorities and utility companies face in the near future. Companies such Eon are already moving into the area of solar installations in the UK, for example, and you can expect others to follow if this is successful.

Finally, the old gripes about solar seem to have all but disappeared. It’s too inefficient? Recent developments have shown that no longer to be true. It’s too costly? The prices have plummeted in the last five years. The future for solar looks bright, though there are obviously some more hurdles to overcome, particularly in locations such as the UK where government policy has been a little indifferent to say the least over the last three years.

Find out about solar PV on our main site.

One of the Largest Investors Backs Renewables

It’s a sign of the times that more and more people who invest are starting to focus on renewables. Of course, the stock market is all about making money and there’s no room for sentiment if you want to make a profit.

The news that one of the world’s largest investors, Morgan Stanley, backs renewables will provide everyone around the world rooting for the green agenda with a boost. The research they carried out showed that renewables such as solar and wind are becoming cheap enough to outperform fossil fuels, especially coal.

According to the bank in July:

“Numerous key markets recently reached an inflection point where renewables have become the cheapest form of new power generation. A dynamic we see spreading to nearly every country we cover by 2020. The price of solar panels has fallen 50% in less than two years (2016-17).”

There are a number of things that have been responsible for driving the cost of renewables down in recent years. Improvement in technology is one – wind turbines are operating with longer blades nowadays which allows them to produce more power. An oversupply of solar panels in the US has led to better details for home and commercial installations. In the UK, the price of installing solar panels has also come down in recent years and with markets such as China producing cheap products this may be set to continue.

The lower cost is making utility companies think again about what sectors they invest in. If solar and wind are going to be cheaper, the costs can be passed onto the consumer. Those large companies that are investing in infrastructure may also get a better return if they choose renewables rather than coal, oil or gas based projects. The development of new technologies such as tidal lagoons could take us even further if they are successful.

The key that is perhaps driving things more than most is the development of storage technology that helps us circumvent some of the major problems with renewables – how to get energy when the sun doesn’t shine or the wind doesn’t blow.

According to Morgan Stanley:

“The demand for storage is expected to grow from a less than $300 million a year market to as much as $4 billion in the next two to three years, says the Morgan Stanley report. Ultimately there’s about a $30 billion market for storage units, with capacity for around 85 gigawatt-hours of power storage. That’s enough electricity to light up most of the New York City metro area for a year.”

This comes on the back of the UK government recently announcing a major commitment to developing storage technology. Many see it as the future and the one ingredient that will push renewables way past the tipping point and finally consign fossil fuels to the past. The question is how quickly it’s going to happen.

As with anything to do with renewables, however, things are not entirely straightforward. A thinktank in the UK at the beginning of the year, said there was a threat that renewables will suffer from underinvestment over the next three years because of the removal of subsidies. They put the decline in investment in areas such as solar and wind at as much as 95%.

That hasn’t stopped those who do invest and are moving from high carbon to low carbon solutions, which is better news for green advocates. That may well be the governing factor when it comes to renewables, rather than the presence or absence of any subsidies. As with most things, money talks. According to Emma Pinchbeck from the Green Alliance:

“The energy sector is changing. The infrastructure pipeline shows that the private sector understands the smart money is on the renewables industry – that is why they are moving from high carbon assets to low carbon ones.”

What are the main political parties policies on renewable energy – Election 2017?

The following is a short summary of what the 4 main political parties in the UK have said about renewable energy, linked to their respective manifesto pages.

Conservatives:  Maintain the position as a global off-shore wind farm leader and building wind farms on Britain’s Islands.

A commitment:

  • To meeting the global commitments on climate change.

 

Labour: A promise to meet the climate change targets already set out, by taking energy back into public ownership and investing in renewables.

A commitment:

  • To creating more tidal lagoons.

 

Lib Dems: To more than double the green electricity usage percentage to 60% by 2030.

Government will give support for industries that manufacture electric and low emission vehicles.

A commitment to:

  • Meeting the climate change targets set out in the Paris agreement.
  • Supporting complimentary industries to renewables such as battery storage, hydrogen usage and smart grid technology.
  • Creating more ‘green homes’ and making 0-carbon homes around the UK.

 

SNP: To meet 42% reduction in greenhouse gasses by 2020.

A commitment:

  • To continue to support energy efficiency in Scotland.

 

Industrial units are perfect for solar panels

Industrial Unit Solar Panels

Business owners are making the best use of the roofs on their industrial units by installing solar panels and are saving more than 65% on their energy bills. 1 in 10 small businesses are generating their own electricity on site and running on clean green energy. For the first time in July-September 2016 half of Britain’s electricity was generated from low carbon sources and history was made on Saturday 25th March 2017 when solar panels set a new generation record. For the first time in UK energy history we’ve seen homes and businesses demand less electricity during daytime than they did during the night. This meant that gas and coal generators were forced to reduce their output to accommodate nearly 8GW of solar generation that occurred during the Saturday peak.

What’s more, the days which following this record breaking day (25th March – 27th March) solar PV capacities produced six times more electricity than the nation’s traditional coal-fired power stations. News like this is becoming more and more regular, which shows the shift from fossil fuels to clean renewables is really starting to pick up pace.  With more and more businesses installing solar on their roofs we explore the huge benefits offered by solar PV.

  1. Business owners like predictability, especially when it comes to purchasing inputs. With solar you can forward buy a significant chunk of your next 25 years’ worth of input, at a fixed price of around a third of what you currently pay. It won’t go up, you have no storage costs, and if you ever decide you don’t need any of it, you get your money back (export to the grid) plus you get a subsidy on top. How many businesses would like to buy all their inputs like this?

  1. The average price per unit of energy paid by UK businesses has increased by 30% since 2012 and its set to increase again by another 5-10% this month (April 2017). In contrast solar panel costs have fallen by 35% which means that those businesses installing solar PV are in effect forward buying their electricity at 4.1p per unit. This compares with the current grid supplied rate of an average 13p per unit. This means with electricity prices rising and the reduction in installation costs, the achievable ROI in 2017 still surpasses 15%. This is despite the FiT cuts back in early 2016.

  1. Businesses are moving their company cars and fleet vehicles to electric power. Obviously these cars require electricity to drive them which will push the demand for electricity up and therefore increase prices further. Smart forward thinking companies are investing in solar PV and using the energy generated on site to charge their electric vehicles and offering employees facilities to charge their cars straight from where the energy is produced and then drive away on completely clean power.

  1. Solar PV hugely enhances any business’ green credentials. Many customers are asking their suppliers to prove they are actively reducing their carbon footprint. A 30 kW (115 panels) solar PV system will help your business reduce its CO2 emissions by a massive 16 tonnes per annum. You can also promote your environmental saving contributions in your marketing literature.

  1. Solar power is a cheap, low maintenance and reliable supply of energy which is protected against price rises and an alternative to grid supplied electricity. Average payback length is 6-8 years and a solar investment can be cash flow positive in as little as 2 years. With low interest rates and the additional tax benefits, solar is therefore viewed as a low risk investment.

  1. Solar panels on a business premises may also add value to the property asset. Future tenants or buyers will see value in having electricity generated at site and this will add to the desirability of the premises.

  1. The sun is always going to be shining… As we’ve already seen, solar PV is generating more and more energy. Solar panels are now more efficient at converting light to energy and even on overcast days and during the winter the solar panels still convert light to energy.

  1. A well-designed solar PV system can help a business become energy independent. This means you can reduce your reliance on the national grid, which is already taking measures to prevent blackouts. Solar offers energy security at a fixed rate.

We’d like to thank www.mypoweruk.com for this article.

Floating Solar Panels

Floating Solar Panels

You may have heard about floating solar panels from the French company Ciel and Terre, who have been involved in the development of the technology since 2006. Pioneers in their field, they have come up with some fantastic solutions for the placement of solar panels. Allowing them to float on water means that they can take up more space, but also won’t cause complaints that they are an eyesore. Why is this? Because they are floating on reservoirs. More recently, the concept has moved to Britain under the company Floating Solar UK. Here, we look more at who they are as well as more information on floating solar panels themselves.

Who are They?

Floating Solar UK are actually partnered with Ciel and Terre, working to provide the UK with better means for the production of solar energy. The first site in the UK that had the Hydrelio floating solar PV system installed was Sheeplands farm, in 2014.

The Hydrelio floating PV system was developed by Ciel and Terre, who have been working tirelessly on it for over a decade. The important thing to note about Floating Solar UK is that they are the first official and agreed distributor of Hydrelio technology in the UK.

They are a company that is committed and determined to keep promoting the use of renewable energy sources. They are strong believers in energy production that result in a lowered environmental impact, and the eventual discontinuation of conventional energy methods like fossil fuels.

One of the exciting things that Ciel and Terre and Floating Solar Panels UK are working towards, is the continued expansion across the market. Currently, a floating solar panel array is under development in Japan – one that is twice as big as the one found in London. It is expected to be completed by 2018. Their presence also extends to South Africa, the USA, Israel, Thailand, and India.

What are Floating Solar Panels?

They are a new, reliable, and cost-effective solution for the production of solar energy. They are able to turn bodies of water into solar power plants, all while continuing to conserve the land and water by allowing the farm to utilise the reservoir for the generation of free, green energy. This energy is then used on-site to power the pump and other areas, saving a massive amount of energy that would have been provided by less eco-friendly sources.

The installation of solar panels on water allows landowners to increase their energy independence, but without taking up valuable space on their land. At the same time, it also helps them to unlock the full potential of any unused bodies of water. On top of this, Hydrelio installations are also able to benefit from the government’s Feed-in Tariff, so you can even make money from your floating solar panels.

The Sheeplands farm installation is made up of 800 Trina panels, all of which are assembled on the land before being lowered into the water by professional installers. The Hydrelio system is able to perform more efficiently than a land-based system of a similar size due to the cooling effects that the water has on the panels. Evaporation is also reduced as the water is shielded from the sun.

Due to the fact that the solar panels are only placed on the water found in reservoirs, there is also no disruption to the ecosystem, as any fish that live there are considered “accidental visitors”. They are also not a disruption to the birds that like to sit on the water, especially as the array only takes up around 6% of the reservoir.

The Benefits of Floating Solar Panels

There are actually quite a few benefits to floating solar panels. Here is the main bulk of them:

  • Cost effective
  • Return on investment is boosted by low lease price and installation costs
  • Streamlined manufacturing process to ensure low production costs
  • Competitive system prices
  • Higher electricity production due to cooling effect of the water
  • All the materials can be recycled
  • Reduction of water evaporation to conserve irrigation or drinking water
  • Slower algae growth thanks to the shielding from the sun the panels provide
  • Low environmental impact overall
  • No excavation work and no impact on water quality
  • Reduced erosion of reservoir embankments due to reduced number of waves
  • Easy to adapt to any electrical configuration
  • Scalable from low to high power generation
  • No tools or heavy equipment required

Want to Know More?

Have you found yourself interested in solar panels? If you want to know more then make sure you head to our marketplace where you can find our full range of products, each with the relevant information. Or simply give us a ring using the number at the top of this page and have a chat.

 

Could a Solar PV and Infrared Heating Mix Be Ideal for the UK?

Solar Panels and Infrared Heating

The issue of heating is set to become big in the next few years as many countries try to reduce their carbon footprints in line with the Paris Agreement. Currently in the UK, about 40% of the country’s energy usage is taken up by hot water and heating, much of which is supplied as fossil fuels such as gas.

And therein lies the problem. According to the Committee on Climate Change, there is much that needs to be done in the UK:

“The Government needs a credible new strategy and a much stronger policy framework for buildings decarbonisation over the next three decades. Many of the changes that will reduce emissions will also contribute toward modern, affordable, comfortable homes and workplaces and can be delivered alongside a major expansion in the number of homes.”

While the UK Government is taking steps to promote low carbon solutions such as biomass and heat pumps, there are other viable options currently available that could make a big difference. One of these is infrared heating which has numerous benefits including low electricity usage and easy installation. In fact, when used in conjunction with power produced by wind or solar, infrared can be considered a hundred per cent carbon free option.

This raises an interesting question about how we combine different types of technology to make more eco-friendly homes and offices. It’s all well and good installing solar panels on your roof but if you are still using fossil fuels for heating and hot water, those CO2 emissions are going to be high.

With the development of solar storage technology starting to take hold and the potential for all of us to have homes that are energy independent, the Government and the population should be thinking about how everything fits together better. In the UK, according to the Solar Trade Association, some 670,000 homes now have solar and could benefit from also updating their current heating technology to something that doesn’t use fossil fuels.

So why isn’t more being made of infrared heating? While the Government has invested in the Renewable Heat Incentive for tech like heat pumps and biomass, they have yet to create the same incentives for infrared. It’s strange because it could be the cheaper option for many homes and businesses. Granted, biomass boilers can be used for heating hot water as well but the large majority of energy usage in homes is from room heating.

The Benefits of Infrared

While it has received less coverage over the years than other forms of heating such as biomass, infrared heating can deliver some real benefits to home owners and businesses beyond the potential lowering of carbon emissions.

They are easy to install, for a start. The latest infrared panels can be quickly fitted to a wall and plugged into the electricity supply with the minimum of fuss. They can also be linked up to wireless thermostats so that you have greater control over your heating.

Infrared panels also work differently from traditional convection heaters. Step outside on a summers day and you will feel the immediate warmth of the sun on your face. This is infrared, it works by heating objects directly rather than the air around you. What does this mean? As soon as you switch on the panel you should feel the effects. No waiting for the room to warm up.

Infrared panels also use a small amount of electricity compared to other heaters and can lower your costs substantially. They’re thought to be a lot healthier and can help reduce damp in walls and could be beneficial to people with allergies and asthma.

Even if you don’t have solar installed, you can switch to an energy provider that utilises renewable sources for their customers, cutting down your potential carbon footprint. The point is that we all need to find new ways to combine different technologies and make our planet safer. Installation of something like infrared of course requires an initial outlay but the potential to reduce energy costs and combine it with tech like solar is something we should all be looking at a lot more closely.

Infrared could well be the perfect solution for homes, particularly in the UK where you have many older properties that wouldn’t benefit from technologies such as heat pumps, where the integrity and insulation of the building is an important factor. The ease of installation and panels that can now be controlled via a Wi-Fi thermostat makes this option viable on numerous levels.

Perhaps it’s time we took a closer look at infrared heating and how it can complement the renewables revolution. It’s an affordable and proven technology that works and there is a case for better promotion and maybe even subsidies to increase uptake.

Can Our Trains Be Powered By Solar and Wind?

High speed train

Solar has come a long way in the last couple of decades. You can hardly walk down a street in the UK nowadays without seeing at least one roof adorned with solar PV panels – nearly a million of us have them on our roofs.

Now a UK university and renewables charity are pairing up to see if solar PV can be used for running our trains.

Imperial College London and 10:10 are looking at whether it’s possible to connect the electric power lines that drive many of our train systems to solar panels. With the rail infrastructure slowly being changed from trains that run on fossil fuel diesel to those that are powered by electricity, it makes sense to find more eco-friendly ways to provide and produce that energy.

And with many rail systems around the world also following suit, the UK could be a leader in the use of solar power for this sector.

The charity 10:10 believes that we could completely decarbonise the rail system over the next thirty years. Research and development will first look at third rail systems where the power is supplied by cables close to the ground. The development will mean that our rail system could well be independent of the National Grid and the innovations in solar power storage over the next few years could also make a big difference. At the moment, peak solar production aligns quite well with the peak time for trains on the current rail network but there will still be a need for a good deal of storage.

According to the team at Imperial College there are a number of major issues to overcome in the meantime:

“Firstly, the third rail on most rail networks is also used for signalling purposes, so injecting power could lead to communications issues. There are also the issues around safety and integration of a secondary power source and managing how and when the solar power is being sent to the third rail.”

Of course, there are plenty of developments going on with renewables and how they can be used for our transport system in particular. In the Netherlands, the major train companies have worked hard to ensure that it’s trains are now powered entirely by wind energy. This has been led by NS who formed a partnership with energy company Eneco. At the beginning of this year, the company estimated that all of its customers were using a rail system that was entirely powered by wind.

This power is procured from newly built wind farms in the Netherlands, Belgium and Finland though there has been some debate about how the utility company can ensure this is actually the case. Eneco does it by obtaining what are called Guarantees of Origin which can be bought from countries where the production of renewables exceeds the local demand.

Where the Imperial College experiment might well differ is that we could see our rail lines connecting directly with solar panels that have been built for that specific purpose. Obviously, this will require a huge infrastructure change but the team believe that many of the current third rail systems are in locations where this is perfectly possible.

Will the Real Rick Perry Please Stand Up?

Rick Perry

If you haven’t been following the news in recent times, you may want to know that there’s a new president in the Whitehouse. Donald J Trump is the 45th and some would say the least illustrious. Just a few days into his tenure and there are real worries that he is going to have an adverse effect on the climate change agenda.

Indeed, shortly after his inauguration on Friday, news began to spread that the new team had taken down all mention of climate change from the government website. Murmurings of public officials working for energy complaining that they were being stopped from speaking out also began to surface. In fairness, the taking down of the Obama website was actually standard practice. The fact that it wasn’t replaced by something similar and mention climate change at all (as well as LGBT rights and equality) seemed to fuel nervousness among the country’s liberals even when an explanation was given.

The key issue, though, has been the selection of Rick Perry to be the Secretary for the Energy Department. When he was running for the nomination a few years back and was quizzed about which departments he would like to close, Perry listed energy among them. So, it makes perfect sense to put a man who wanted to get rid of the Energy Department in charge of it. Maybe it’s Trump’s idea of a joke.

But who exactly is Rick Perry?

Our outline below may not entirely instil you with confidence that this new administration is going to take climate change and renewables entirely seriously.

  • He is the Governor of Texas and is the longest serving one in the state, having been first elected way back in 2000 during the Bush era.
  • He has actually tried to run for President a couple of times, both, of course, unsuccessfully.
  • When Trump asked him to become Energy Secretary, he had no idea what the department actually did. He didn’t even know that part of its job is to maintain the nuclear arsenal.
  • Rick used to be a democrat but turned to the Dark Side when he was not successful. He subsequently became Governor as a Republican.
  • He was one of Trump’s biggest critics in the lead up to the nominations and endorsed Ted Cruz instead.
  • In the past he has been accused of being homophobic and the family hunting lodge is believed to have a racist name.
  • He’s also been accused of cronyism and corruption in the past – he is a politician after all.
  • He is on the board of Energy Transfer Partners who just happen to be building the controversial Dakota Pipeline where native Americans have been protesting in recent months. Trump also has a considerable number of shares in the company.
  • But here’s the kicker: He doesn’t think global warming is real and once said: ‘Calling CO2 a pollutant is doing a disservice to the country’, though no one was quite sure what he meant.

As of writing, Perry has yet to be approved by the Congressional Committee but most green activists aren’t holding their breath. The next few months may not only see Trump and his team building more pipelines, expanding fracking operations and looking for new oil sources, it could see him withdrawing from the global climate change deal. Perhaps the only chance is if the administration sees the potential for profit and job creation that the industry can deliver.

Which Home Heating is Supported by the RHI?

RHI Technologies

While the recent Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) scandal in Northern Ireland may have put some people off, the scheme run in England, Scotland and Wales is still a pretty good option for green enthusiasts. In fact, there are increases to the amount being paid for the next year as the Government tries to convince more of us to switch to low carbon heating.

But which technologies are included in the list for the RHI?

Biomass or Wood Fuelled Boilers

Biomass boilers are designed to burn plant material such as wood in order to provide heat for a home. They can also be used to generate electricity in some cases, depending on the design. The heat travels up through a flue and then enters a heat exchanger which can then send it out to the property central heating system.

The most efficient fuel for biomass boilers is either wood chip or pellet. These are still considered renewable because the wood is obtained from sustainable sources where trees are replanted.

Biomass Pellet Stoves Integrated with a Boiler to Deliver Space Heating

You can get biomass pellet stoves that are able to operate on their own and many people have these in their home as a way of heating a particular room. When this kind of device is connected to a boiler it can be used to heat all spaces in a property. Once this is achieved, the technology is eligible for the Renewable Heat Incentive.

Ground Source Heat Pumps

Ground source heat pumps involve a network of pipes that are dug into the garden surrounding a property. This array leads to an exchange mechanism that works just like a refrigerator but in reverse. The popularity of this kind of technology in Europe is now starting to catch on here. It works best with a property that is well insulated as the heating is supplied at a fairly low, but constant, level. New developments in recent times have seen heat pumps that can extract higher levels of warmth from the surrounding environment. For the purposes of the RHI, water source heat pumps are classed in a similar way to GSHPs.

Air Source Heat Pumps

Similar to ground source heat pumps, air source ones fit to the outside of a building and extract heat from the surrounding atmosphere. They are considered a little less efficient than GSHPs but are a lot cheaper to install as no building work is required.

Flat Plate and Evacuated Tube Solar Thermal Panels That Deliver Hot Water

Solar thermal panels work by attracting the heat from the sun and converting this to work with your central heating or hot water system. Solar thermal is a decent low cost solution with very little in the way of carbon emissions attached to it. They are also easy to maintain and have a fairly long operational life comparable to solar PV.

If you are considering upgrading your heating system this year and want to find a solution that is low carbon and easy to manage, then any of the solutions above are suitable. While the cost of installation may be more than your average gas boiler, the return on investment along with the RHI and reduced heating bills can make a huge difference.

Find out more about the RHI here.