A warm welcome to more support for the RHI (Renewable Heat Incentive)

It is expected that the support, which is provided by the Government under the Renewable Heat Incentive scheme is likely to increase in the coming months. Along with this, the Government also confirmed that air -water heat pumps as well as industrial and commercial energy which are generated from waste will also be included under the Renewable Heat Incentive scheme. This change is likely to result in the re- adjustment of the tariff levels which are likely to increase the lower levels of uptake for certain technologies included in the scheme, such as geothermal energy, biomass, solar technology as well as ground sourced heat pumps. Once the approval is received from the Parliament as well as the EU state, these new tariffs will be made available by the start of spring in 2014.

The Minister for Energy, Greg Barker, stated that it is very important that the industry raises the maximum level of confidence, which will encourage investors to make investments in the market. Moreover, this will also help in reducing costs as well as resulting in sustainable market growth. Greg Barker provided this information in a written ministerial statement. He continued by stating that the changes are being made primarily in order to instigate significant growth in order to deploy numerous renewable heating technologies in the upcoming years, and according to the Ministry of Energy, these new tariffs will help in bringing about significant deployment, ultimately allowing the industry to grow in size and with top level investor confidence.

More importantly, the Government has also published its reply to several different consultations which were undertaken recently on increasing the scope of the non- domestic Renewable Heat Incentive, which had the title ‘Improving Support, Increasing Uptake’. It also published additional details of the domestic scheme, which was recently delayed and is now expected to begin at a later date in 2014. The response given by the government provides a clear idea of its decision making, as well as the reasoning behind the expansion of the non- domestic Renewable Heat Incentive.

For those who do not know, the Renewable Heat Incentive is the primary mechanism that is used by the Government in order to deploy renewable heat on a larger scale. Within the confines of the Renewable Heat Incentive, those applicants who have been screened and approved are given long term financial incentives as well as increased fiscal support in order to help them in using and expanding eligible and industry qualified methods for deploying technology that can generate heat. Non domestic users were introduced to the first phase of the Renewable Heat Incentive back in November 2011, and payments were provided every quarter to the applicants, spread over a total period of 20 years. Numerous qualifying technologies have already been approved and put in for deployment, such as biomass boilers, ground source heat pumps as well as solar thermal panels, which are by far the largest in number throughout the United Kingdom.

The Government had published a response to a number of different consultations which were carried out as well as numerous calls for evidence which were made throughout the year. In this published response, it revealed that it had not seen the levels of uptake which it had expected when the Renewable Heat Incentive scheme was first launched. Even though significant increases have been made in the overall uptake of heat from numerous related technologies, primarily from biomass installations, as well as a 7 percent increase in the overall renewable heat that was generated back in 2012, the total amount of heat that was generated in the calendar year 2013- 2014 is anticipated to be around the 1.2 TWh mark, which is just slightly above a third of what was initially anticipated when the scheme was launched.

Numerous changes have been proposed in the Government’s response. One of these is the introduction of a new tariff which will apply to deep geothermal heat, and is set at 5p for every eligible kilowatt hour that is generated. A specific tariff has also been introduced for biomass, combined with power and heat and set at 4.1p for every kilowatt hour that is produced. Air to water heat pumps have also received backing from the government, and their tariffs are set at 2.5p for every kilowatt hour that is generated. All installations which are run on biogas and have a thermal generating capacity of anywhere between 200 to 600 kWh will be getting a tariff of 5.9p for every kilowatt hour produced. However, those biogas installations which are able to produce more than 600 kWh, will be getting around 2.2p for every kilowatt hour produced.

Moreover, larger biomass installations that have an overall generating capacity in excess of 1MWth will be getting a slightly increased tariff of around 2.2p for every kilowatt hour produced while an increase is also expected in solar thermal energy, which will take the tariff for solar thermal to 10p for every kilowatt hour produced. A single tiered tariff for ground source heat pumps has also been set at 7.2p per kilowatt hour generated, while the previous banded tariff has been repealed. No tariff support has been announced for bioliquid heat and power and none as well for heating only air to air heat pumps or direct air heating using biomass.

Because the annual budget is fixed, all of the announced tariffs will follow a regression mechanism which ultimately means that over the passage of time, these annual budgets will begin to decrease. The rate of regression is likely to be dependent upon the uptake of the particular technology for which the tariff applies. The uptake of particular technologies is going to be monitored every quarter by making use of a number of triggers. Monthly updates will be published and a notice will be issued to the industry before any cuts are made by the government.

Renewable Heat Incentive - RHI
Renewable Heat Incentive – RHI

Government backed Fuel Cell Micro-CHP project in Japan

Efforts to bring the economic and environmental benefits of cutting-edge microCHP technologies to the domestic markets of the United Kingdom, Japan, South Korea, and Germany are reaching new heights. The development and production of this co-generation technology that produces heat for space and hot water as well as producing electricity for use in the home has been highly anticipated by global markets.

Japan is leading the implementation race with Toshiba, JX Energy and Panasonic, the key players in Japan’s fuel cell program, all focusing on small scale (1kW systems) domestic microCHP boiler production and development. Japan considers small scale domestic mCHP Fuel Cell systems to be one of the 21 key technologies for the future.

In 2000, the Japanese government launched the Ene-Farm deployment program for domestic fuel cell microCHP. After four years of technology verification they developed a large-scale demonstration project installing nearly 3000 microCHP fuel cell systems. This program and its microCHP unit have been described as “the most successful residential micro-CHP fuel cell to date.” In 2009 this evolved into a full scale commercialisation program. Since then the unit has seen an exponential growth in sales with more than 20,000 units being installed in three years, with projected sales of 50,000 units a year by 2015.

For an easy to use breakdown of all you might need to know about microCHP, such as UK boiler prices and efficiencies, availablity and application, visit our mCHP pages HERE

Ene-Farm Logo
Ene-Farm Logo

Gas and electricity price increase and the renewable energy industry.

The price for both gas and electricity is going up again. Last year the ‘big six’ energy companies outlined price rises of between 6% and 10.8%. British Gas, Npower and SSE have been the first to increase prices for their domestic customers, with dual-fuel bills to rise by up 11.1% in November, effecting nearly eight million households. This is indeed unwelcome news in the current financial climate. The cost of living is going up but wages don’t seem to be keeping pace.
Providers have said that the cost of buying energy on global markets, delivering gas and electricity to homes in addition to the government’s ‘green’ levies were all factors in the decision to put up prices.

So what action is our government taking to protect us from this exponential and frankly unaffordable escalation in prices?

The United Kingdom is turning to renewable energy more and more both on a commercial and domestic level.

“We are endowed with vast and varied renewable energy resources. We have the best wind, wave and tidal resources in Europe. “
Taken from the Ministerial forward ‘UK Renewable Energy Roadmap’

We lead the world in offshore wind, with more than 700 turbines already installed, providing enough power for two and a half million homes. We have the biggest wind projects in Europe under construction to help us meet our carbon footprint targets and to bring the costs of powering our homes down. New green levies, The Green deal, VAT cuts, green initiative investment and the government’s financial mechanism the RHI (renewable heat incentive) all support the widespread deployment of renewable energy technologies. Feed-in tariffs although previously cut by the government are now being locked in for periods of up to 20 years. The government is rewarding those that move towards renewable energy both on a commercial and domestic level.

What can renewable energy do for you in the wake of these and future price increases?

Co-generation and ‘green’ technologies such as solar panel systems, biomass boilers and heat pump systems are now more acquirable. Becoming gradually more and more enticing to consumers looking to save money and cut costs. New, more efficient technologies are being released to help lower our dependency on fossil fuels and cut our carbon emissions. A huge and vastly competitive market for a variety of renewable energy technology has opened up.
The renewable energy industry already employs over 250,000 people, by 2020 this figure could double as new more efficient technology in fields such as m-CHP fuel cell boilers become available. This is being driven forward by enthusiastic backers and developers, looking to sell their cost cutting, low emission products to the masses. Renewable energy is now available to all of us. It can save you money and help the environment in the process.
So, to summarize, the price of fossil fuel is rising, affecting nearly every household in the country at a time when typically we can’t afford it. Targeted practical actions are being taken in the green technology sector and it’s becoming more efficient and affordable. An investment in renewable energy has never made so much sense.

The Big Six raising prices again.
The Big Six raising prices again.

To find out more about renewable energy or to search a vast and user friendly database of over 7000 UK based installers visit:
www.renewableenergyhub.co.uk

With energy bills rising here’s two ways to cut the costs and lower your bills!

EcoLocker is set up to keep you informed about renewable energy products and services and then to put you in touch with the right team for your install. Read our user friendly and informative information pages to find out about renewable energy technologies that could help you lower your carbon footprint and save you money.
Here we offer a couple of widely applicable tips to help cut your energy costs.

Get free Insulation:

Before selecting a renewable energy system for your home or business we recommend that you first ensure that your property is fully insulated.
Insulating your home or workplace can significantly reduce bills. Loft insulation for a typical UK home can save you up to £175 a year according to the Energy Saving Trust. Cavity wall insulation adds a further saving of £135 a year!
The Energy Companies Obligation (ECO) is the Government target given to all large energy providers to reduce carbon emissions by improving the energy efficiency of homes in Britain. It is the largest initiative of its kind and even middle / high-income households can take advantage. British gas is offering free insulation worth up to £1000 to all households regardless of their energy supplier. This deal is only available until the end of November and homes have to meet certain criteria to be applicable. Government grants of up to £3500 are also available to those on or below the poverty line.
The warm front scheme pays a company to improve insulation on your loft, cavity walls and hot water tank. To qualify you must receive pension credit with your state pension, have an income below £15,860 and receive Child Tax Credit or Working Tax credits, or claim income support.
Click here for more information on Insulation.

Replacing your boiler:

Boilers account for around 55% of our home’s energy bills a year so finding an efficient one or replacing an old one can really help cut your energy costs. If your boiler is more than 15 years old then simply replacing it for an A-rated condensing boiler and improving your heating controls will significantly cut your home’s carbon dioxide emissions and could save you up to £310 a year.
Upgrading to a new A-rated boiler could save you £237 a year according to the comparison website USwitch. So with an initial cost in the region of £1800-£2400 it would take between 7.5 and 10.5 years to cover your investment.
Free Boilers are available via the Energy Companies Obligation (ECO) – Affordable Warmth boiler grant scheme. This scheme is only available to pensioners or senior citizens who receive either State Pension Credits or Working Tax Credits (and are over 60 y/a).
Alternatively you might want to look into Biomass boilers. This type of boiler typically burns wood in the form of wood chips or pellets (see our Biomass Boiler Information pages HERE). They are however, more suited to buildings that aren’t on mains gas and that have space for the storage of fuel.

Take the home energy check at the Energy Saving Trust to find out the overall energy efficiency of your home, and the carbon emissions you produce.
http://hec.est.org.uk/

Thinking of an investment in solar panels?

More than 450,000 homes in Britain now have solar panels with an extra 2000 solar panel systems being installed each week. The Great British summer paid off this year, driving up the returns homeowners made on their investment, but can we really still see high percentage returns after the cuts to feed-in tariffs?

The Solar Trade Association estimates a cost saving of £823 a year on an average utility bill for an average £7000 pound investment in solar PV, which equates to roughly a 12.5% tax-free annual return over 25 years.

So what do i need to consider?

The main factors (there are others) to take into consideration when thinking about an investment in solar PV are:

The pitch of your roof. In the summer the angle of the sun is 50 to 60 degrees and the standard UK roof is 30 to 40 degrees resulting in a combined angle of 90 degrees, the ideal angle to catch the most sun.

The direction your roof faces. To produce the most electricity your solar PV array should be facing South. There will be a varying degree in loss of efficiency when pointed more towards the south east or south west.

The type of system you go for. Different makes and models of solar panels will have different efficiency and output ratings, effecting how much power they produce. More expensive solar panels may generate more electricity and generate you more money through the feed-in tariff. In the UK the most popular solar panel manufacturers are Solarworld, Schott, Sharp, Mitsubishi, Yingli and Canadian Solar.

The hours you spend at home. If you are at home during the day you can use more of the electricity you are producing yourself. It can take a decade to cover your initial investment if that is the way you want to look at it, so some thought towards the long term is generally a good idea.

Possible unforeseen maintenance requirements. Many homeowners who invested in solar panels early on, when the FIT first started are now realizing what impact poor install methods had in regards to the returns on their investment. When panels have been installed incorrectly many issues can occur with the roof in which they are installed on, leaks being the major culprit. This can lead to expensive repair bills which are likely to diminish returns considerably. Your chosen installer should reassure you that the method they intend to use on your property will not lead to these issues arising.

All you will need to know can be found HERE but if you have any further questions, then the The Renewable Energy Hub staff are always happy to help.

Email Us’ to get a quick estimate of how much income and savings you could receive from the domestic feed-in tariff scheme. Then choose at least three MCS accredited companies to approach for a quote. Use our database of UK installers to find the professional for your install.

Solar Panels
Solar PV Install

Micro-CHP is set to revolutionise the way that we generate heat and use electricity in homes and small businesses.

Energy efficient, flexible and controllable Micro-CHP systems are being installed in the UK now.

Micro-CHP (micro combined heat and power) is a term referring to a group of technologies that generate both heat and electricity. Like a normal boiler these micro-CHP units can provide heating for your home or office, hot water and electricity as well! Micro-CHP still use mains gas or LPG but are more environmentally friendly and cost effective, plus they give you more control over your home’s heating and electricity consumption. They can also be integrated with conventional condenser boilers, ground and air source heat pumps and solar thermal systems.

Micro-CHP systems are similar in size and shape to domestic boilers; they can be wall hung or floor standing. If you have a conventional boiler then a micro-CHP boiler should be able to directly replace it. The installer must be MCS approved but for the householder there is very little difference in installation and operation. The only difference to a standard boiler is that they are able to generate electricity while they are heating water. A typical domestic system will generate up to 1kW of electricity once warmed up. Any electricity you generate and don’t use can be sold back to the grid whilst getting paid for what you generate by way of the Feed In Tariff (FIT).

Micro-CHP systems lower carbon emissions by generating their own electricity as a by-product of heat. Some systems are eligible for Feed-in Tariffs where you will earn a tariff for each KWH of electricity you generate and each KWH you export. (Click here for the latest FiT rates)

The standard Stirling engine micro-CHP generates about 6:1 heat to electricity so its electrical output is generally fairly low, however the rewards can still be felt, with it paying for itself in a reasonably short amount of time (subject to FIT payments).

The Fuel cell micro-CHP is new to the UK and global markets. Fuel cells work by taking energy from fuel at a chemical level instead of burning it so they don’t produce large quantities of carbon dioxide (or noise). They convert the chemical energy in fuel directly into electricity and heat. They could substantially decarbonise domestic energy production. An initiative by Ceramic Fuel Cells Ltd called ‘free BlueGen’ has been launched which will see fuel cell micro-CHP systems installed for free in the UK. The idea is that the install will be financed by an energy services company and the funds will be recouped through the UK’s feed-in tariff. The end user will only pay for the running costs at a minimum 10% discount on the cheapest local standard retail tariff.

‘The United Kingdom government has announced that it will be increasing its feed-in tariff of micro combined heart and power systems. Micro-CHP systems often make use of hydrogen fuel cells which are capable of producing a large amount of heat while generating electricity. The UK government believes that these systems hold a great deal of potential and could help the country become less dependent on fossil-fuels. The initiative may be good news for Ceramic Fuel Cells, whose BlueGen fuel cells are the only micro-CHP system that has received certification from the Microgeneration Certification Scheme.’ www.viridisec.co.uk

Worcester MicroCHP Unit
Worcester MicroCHP Unit

Here is a video on BlueGEN fuel cell micro-CHP.