Everything you need to know about Renewables for Business and Commercial Use
For a while now the onus has been put on businesses to behave in a more sustainable and carbon friendly way. We all know that we need to act more responsibly when it comes to the environment and every commercial enterprise needs to be encouraged to do its bit.
To help, various incentives have been provided by the UK Government including Feed in Tariffs and the Green Deal which means that an energy saving, renewable focused approach is more attractive to businesses of all sizes across the country. There are now a number of renewable and low carbon technologies on the market which can make it difficult to choose the right renewable approach for your business.
Should you go solar or opt for a heat pump in the office? Could you make your office building more eco-friendly by installing a green roof? What are the return on investment possibilities for each technology? Can you make a difference just by putting in better insulation? At The Renewable Energy Hub our aim is to provide you with the right information so that you can make an informed choice for your business.
Below are a number of areas where your carbon footprint can be reduced and savings made in both short and long terms on your energy bills.
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Before you consider which renewable options to take it pays to have a look at the structural integrity of your building. Effective insulation can considerably cut heating costs and has been one of the key governmental targets over the last ten to fifteen years, not only for domestic premises but for offices too.
Installing the right standard of double glazing or reviewing your cavity wall or floor and ceiling insulation may not cost as much as you think and small changes can make a huge difference. Find out more about insulation.
Solar for Business
If your business has adequate roof space then installing solar panels can boost your green credentials quite a bit but also earn you a significant return on investment. Solar works by taking the energy from the sun and converting it to electricity.
What used to be an expensive proposition has now become extremely attractive to businesses and home owners because the cost of installation has fallen and various incentives introduced to encourage take up. Recent reports have suggested that commercial solar is set to boom over the next few years and many businesses are now introducing it as part of their operating budget.
Businesses can benefit from the Smart Export Guarantee (SEG) that pays them for the electricity they produce and there are profits to be made even for small concerns that have a limited amount of roof space.
Find out how solar panels can cut costs and make you money.
Cost of Solar Panels
Learn all about getting FREE solar panels for your business here: Commercial Solar Panels
The sun isn’t just good for producing electricity. Solar thermal uses the energy from our nearest star to heat up water. It’s a technology that is used across the whole of Europe by many businesses that are looking to reduce their costs and cut down on their environmental impact.
Often considered a poor second cousin to solar panels, solar thermal is in fact a highly cost effective and easy to install technology that can bring numerous benefits.
Discover how solar thermal can help your business.
Commercial Wind Energy
If your business has access to plenty of land and you want to take advantage of the renewable industry’s most recognisable product, then you might like to consider installing a wind turbine or two.
Creating energy from the wind is not suitable for urban areas mainly because of houses that block the necessary air flow that a turbine needs and the impact on the view of residents.
Whilst costing twice as much as a comparable energy producing solar panel installation, wind power can produce a significant return on investment for a commercial concern that has the land available.
Discover the world of wind power.
Heat Pumps for Business
Heat pumps work in a variety of ways to draw valuable heat energy form the air, land and water around us. They use a technique similar to refrigeration but instead of producing cold air they give out warmth which can be enhanced with the right technology.
Heat pumps are ideal for new build offices and domestic properties that have all the latest insulation and energy saving measures in place. Older properties tend to have too many cavities and drafts that nullify the lower constant heat of a pump system so they are seen as difficult, if not impossible, to retrofit.
Find out more about heat pumps.
Not exactly a renewable in the strictest sense of the word but installing a green roof on top of an office building can have numerous benefits.
Green spaces are being created on offices roofs in cities all across the world and they provide a way of reducing flooding, increasing insulation and providing a pleasant and environmentally friendly place for wild life and people to enjoy.
Explore how green roofs can change your office landscape.
Burning plant material such as wood in a biomass boiler can produce both heat and electricity in the workplace and is becoming a popular choice for many businesses.
Biomass can be conducted on a small scale but is also used in large industrial processes and has led to a big reduction in carbon emissions for many companies as well as giving them access to vital tax relief.
Find out more about biomass boilers and your business.
Creating power from water is one of the oldest renewable technologies on the planet but you might be forgiven for thinking that it was limited to the large scale operations surrounding our reservoirs. Nothing could be further from the truth. A number of businesses have installed hydroelectric systems and micro-hydro because they have access to a fast running water source.
It has also given rise to a number of community ventures where local people and businesses raise the money to develop a large system that can provide financial benefits for all concerned. The cost of installing a hydroelectric system is comparable to a wind turbine and you can expect a return on investment within the first ten years.
The bigger the system, however, the greater and quicker the return and a number of commercial operations, including the National Trust, have benefited over the years from having it installed on their land.
Discover how you can turn running water into valuable power.
Micro Combined Heat and Power applies to a range of technologies that produce both heat and electricity. Whilst not strictly a renewable energy, mCHP is designed to get the most energy out of a process by using the heat produced to further create electricity.
Boilers installed in offices and domestic premises can reduce carbon emissions and cut down on bills. mCHP uses a variety of methods including heat extraction and fuel cell technology to make the most of energy production, in some cases producing efficiency savings of between 30 and 45%.
Whilst it is also used on an industrial scale, mCHP boiler technology is highly suited to small businesses and domestic situations and is one of the fastest developing green energy solutions today.
Find out more about Micro Combined Heat and Power boilers.
Heat Recovery and Ventilation
Heat Recovery and Ventilation systems have been around for some years but have developed dramatically with the renewable revolution and present an increasingly attractive proposition for many businesses. Most new office builds are starting to include heat recovery and ventilation systems as a matter of course but, as with heat pumps, older buildings have several other issues to overcome to make installation a viable option.
Heat recovery can, however, greatly reduce the running costs of a business even with a retrofit, as long as the right system is put in place.
Take a look at heat recovery systems for businesses.
It’s estimated that within the next twenty or thirty years our demand for water may well outstrip supply by as much as 40%. Whilst we all tend to look at renewables in respect of heating and electricity, one of the most important things for both domestic and commercial premises is water.
Rainwater harvesting systems basically collect all the water that falls on the roof of your property and saves it to be used for what are called potable needs, for example, flushing toilets. Whilst for a simple home a system can help save up to 50% on water usage and reduce bills if you have a metre, for the commercial sector it has the prospect of providing considerably more benefits.
There are a number of high profile rainwater harvesting initiatives being undertaken across the UK often combined with a green roofing area that is redefining our city landscapes.
Find out who is making the most of rainwater harvesting.
One industry that is growing in popularity more than some is infrared heating. These panels provide a low cost and efficient way of warming up any space and are available in a range of attractive designs which means they can fit comfortably into any environment.
Infrared works by heating an object rather than the surrounding air as normal convection systems do. It is thought to be healthier, more efficient, and provides instant warmth in much the same way as the sun’s rays do when they touch an object.
Find out more about infrared heating.
One significant way that businesses can easily cut down on their carbon emissions and reduce the cost of their electricity bills is to look at lighting. Only a few years ago LED lighting was not considered to be powerful enough to provide the illumination that many offices needed and the cost of bulbs was also quite high.
With recent research and manufacturing developments this has now all changed and many businesses are switching to LED where huge cost savings are potentially possible. They use much less electricity than other bulbs and last considerably longer.
Discover how LED lighting can help you save money.
One area that will concern many businesses who want to install external energy efficient or renewable technology is the need for planning permission. Whilst it’s always wise to contact your local council to find out where you stand, installations such as solar panels are being actively encouraged and there should be no problem having them put in.
Of course, with something like a wind turbine you have a different problem and it is highly unlikely that you would get permission to build one in an urban area. Overall, planning permission depends on a number of factors but councils are more open to new developments that have green credentials than ever before.
Finding the right financing for a renewable initiative is another problem that businesses have to face. Many more financial institutions are willing to lend on something that has a good return on investment such as solar panels and wind turbines.
Another option open to business is to foster community engagement and share the return on investment within the local area. More information can be found within the different technology categories on the website.
The Smart Export Guarantee (SEG)
The Smart Export Guarantee (SEG) is a program designed to reward renewable energy generators for exporting their surplus electricity back to the grid. It offers financial incentives to eligible technologies such as anaerobic digestion (AD), hydro, onshore wind turbines, solar PV, and micro-combined heat and power (micro-CHP) systems, with a total installed capacity of up to 5MW and micro-CHP systems up to 50kW.
To participate in the SEG, you must apply directly to a licensed energy supplier after installing an eligible technology. It's not mandatory to choose the same company that supplies your electricity; a list of SEG suppliers can be found on Ofgem's website. Additionally, to qualify, you'll need to have half-hourly metering and employ a certified installer for your renewable energy system.
Maximizing Your Benefits To make the most of the SEG, it's essential to shop around and compare the tariffs offered by different suppliers. This way, you can find the best deal that suits your energy generation and consumption patterns. Moreover, you have the flexibility to switch suppliers if you come across a more advantageous offer later on.
The amount you earn through the SEG program depends on two factors: the quantity of electricity you export to the grid and your export tariff rate. If you consume most of the energy your system generates while being active throughout the day, your surplus export to the grid may be limited.
Notable Exclusions If you're already receiving an export tariff as part of Feed-in-Tariff payments, you are not eligible to receive benefits from the SEG simultaneously.
Further Grants and Loans Information
Below is a useful passage from the Ofgem website.
Many government schemes offer loans, grants or subsidised energy-saving measures to support small businesses with reducing their impact on the environment. These normally help with:
- energy efficiency measures – such as revising production processes
- the upfront costs of investing in energy-efficient equipment
- waste management and reduction initiatives
- sustainable development initiatives.
Start by searching the GOV.UK business finance and support finder.
Ask your local council if they provide energy efficiency funding or sustainable business growth grants. You will normally need to submit a business case to apply. Some initiatives may also be eligible for business innovation funding.
See if you can get paid to generate your own renewable power and heat through the national Smart Export Guarantee scheme.
The government is also proposing two new energy efficiency schemes from 2022 to replace the current domestic and non-domestic renewable heat incentives.
- Clean Heat Grant: upfront capital funding for households or businesses that integrate green heating technologies such as heat pumps and in certain circumstances biomass.
- Green Gas Support Scheme: funding support for biomethane injection to increase the amount of green gas in the national grid.
If you are looking for a business grant you may also find this website useful.
For more information or if you are thinking of undertaking a project call us for advice or contact us here.
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