Renewable Technology – what’s it all about and why is it in demand? Here’s a quick guide to some of the more popular technologies out there.
For more information visit Ofgem’s website at www.ofgem.gov.uk/environmental-programmes/domestic-renewable-heat-incentive
For centuries we have been harnessing the sun’s energy to heat water. The system will work best in summer, but it will still save you money all year round.
A conventional boiler or your immersion heater is used to top up/make the water hotter, or to provide hot water when solar energy is unavailable, and with Solar Thermal, there are some tempting incentives to get you up and running and to reduce your costs.
The benefits include ‘free’ hot water throughout the year: the system works all year round.
It will reduce your energy bills: sunlight is free, so once you’ve paid for the initial installation your hot water costs can be reduced by as much as 90% in the summer.
The Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) means that the any installation costs should be paid back directly to you, index linked and is tax free.
The systems are largely maintenance free, and start to generate heat as soon as they are installed.
Solar Photovoltaic (Solar PV) uses the energy from the sun and converts this into electricity, which you can use for ‘free’, and if you have produced a surplus of electricity you will also be able to sell back much of this to your energy supplier via the ‘export rate’.
The benefits are that you reduce your energy consumption and therefore energy bills as you can use most of what you produce.
Get paid for the electricity you generate, and then export through the Feed-In Tariff.
This is probably the most ‘in demand’ technology of the moment and like many renewable energy solutions, is not a new idea. It’s just the technology that has moved forward which makes it more appealing and easier to use at home or at work.
A Wood Fuel / Biomass boiler burns wood pellets, chips or logs (or even a combination), this is then converted to provide warmth to power central heating and hot water boilers, and can be extended to many properties / uses via a ‘district heating system’. It’s a renewable energy source and a low-carbon option as the carbon dioxide emitted when wood is burned is the same amount that was absorbed over the months and years that the plant was growing, and sustainable if new plants grow in place of those used for fuel.
Wood is an affordable heating fuel, and although the price of wood fuel varies considerably it is often cheaper than other heating options, especially those of oil or lpg.
Retro fitting to an old or adding to new house is straight forward as you are effectively swapping one solution for another.
It can be used to heat your home via under-floor heating.
Wood fuel biomass boilers are very efficient and can convert up to 95% of the fuel into usable heat.
Air & Ground Source Heat Pumps
This technology is quite old but still delivers great solutions. All heat pumps extract heat from the outside air or ground in the same way a fridge extracts heat from its inside. It can get heat from the air even when temperatures get as low as -15°/-20°C.
Both air and ground source heat pump solutions operate in roughly the same way.
Ground source heat pumps tend to perform slightly better as the temperature of the ground at one metre below is more constant, but the costs of installing are higher due to the trenches / bore holes needed, so can be a great solution when building a new home, but seldom great for older buildings as the energy required is much greater than new build and would normally mean larger radiators.
Both systems offer high efficiency with the potential to significantly reduce energy bills.
A very efficient alternative for properties not on the mains gas grid, well-suited to newer properties with good levels of insulation (not great for retrofitting older properties). They have low maintenance requirements .
The Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) means that any installation costs should be paid back directly to you, and are index linked
If you install a Solar PV array at the same time, the cost of running the pumps will be offset and your overall energy bills greatly reduced.