Thursday, January 14, 2016

2016 - The Year of Renewables?

I suspect that most people would think of renewable energy as Solar Panels, Wind Turbines or perhaps even Tidal or Wave turbines. But there are other options, particularly when it comes to heating our homes as opposed to generating electricity to power all our gadgets, as demonstrated by this piece from Michael Wright who operates in a very cold region of the Arctic Circle known as Yorkshire.
According to Michael, of leading regional installer Yorkshire Heat Pumps, renewable energy is set to top the shopping list for the perfect home in 2016.
Said Michael: "Minds were focused on the environment as 2015 drew to a close, with the Paris summit on climate change hitting the headlines. We believe 2016 will be the year of renewables as people realise increasingly that if mankind is serious about saving the planet, we all need to embrace sustainable technologies. And we noticed a surge in enquiries in the lead-up to Christmas.
"Using renewables to heat homes is an important way of reducing our carbon emissions and the government's payback scheme, the domestic Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI), can offset the cost of going green.
"While the need to reduce reliance on fossil fuels is never going to go away, people are realising that RHI may not be around forever, so in lots of ways it makes sense to act sooner rather than later."
There are four choices of technology for heating and hot water, all of which are eligible for the domestic RHI scheme, which makes quarterly payments based on the energy required to heat your home.
Ground source and air source heat pumps, biomass boilers and solar thermal panels all offer renewable solutions which are suitable for different property types. Biomass is the easiest to retrofit to existing systems and is possibly the best choice for less well insulated properties. Ground source and air source heat pumps are most effective in well insulated homes and work perfectly with large heat emitters such as under floor heating. Solar thermal heats your domestic hot water and is great to couple with another technology.
Bio-mass pellets
Said Michael: "Your property will largely dictate which technology is best for you. New builds, conversions and large extensions are perfectly suited to ground source heat pumps, for example. "Domestic RHI is paid over seven years and many people find that this is plenty long enough to recoup the whole cost of the installation."
The different technologies command different tariffs, with solar thermal paying the highest at 19.51p/kilowatt hour, closely followed by ground source heat pumps at19.1p/kwh), then air source at 7.42p/kwh and with biomass boilers bringing up the rear at 5.14p/kwh from January 1 2016.
The Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) keeps the domestic RHI scheme within its budget by lowering the tariffs for new applicants when specific ‘degression triggers' are hit. Biomass has had the highest uptake to date and is the only technology to have reached this ‘degression' point, which is why the amount paid to new applicants has been falling quarter by quarter over the past year. The remaining three technologies still command the rates set when the scheme launched in 2014 and for many people can represent a healthy return on investment.

1 comment:

  1. In 1980 I spent three weeks working in Belgium, so I can precisely date a conversation that took place there. It concerned somebody who had had a new house built and had got the builders to excavate trenches all over the plot into which central heating radiators had been dropped - all connected together, obviously - and, due the near constant temperature underground provided cooling in the summer and (pre) heating in the winter.

    It sounded like an excellent idea to me at the time but it seems strange that, over 30 years later, we are only gradually getting to hear of ground source heating systems.

    As for solar thermal heating, it would have been about 20 years ago that I first saw this demonstrated at the Centre for Alternative Technology near Machynlleth on the Welsh coast.

    This was another home made affair, comprising a shallow glass topped box with a network on 15mm copper pipes fitted with clip on black anodised aluminium 'wings' to collect the sun's heat. Even on a dull, overcast day, the down pipe from the roof mounted array was surprisingly hot to the touch.

    On a recent return visit - again on an overcast day! - the array was still there but with less emphasis on the DIY approach as commercially available collectors have a much higher efficiency (and CAT no longer sells the all important aluminium vanes.)

    CAT is well worth a visit if you find yourself in west Wales - even the cable car up from the car park is water powered but, for obvious reasons, it doesn't operate in winter!

    However, over the intervening 20 years, I don't think I've ever seen one of these arrays on a roof - the emphasis seems to be on using solar power to generate electricity, fuelled by a generous Feed In Tariff ...