The aim of renewable electricity tariffs and heat incentives is to help make these types of technology available to everyone, whether in a domestic or commercial context, as fast as possible and overcome the problems of cost associated with any relatively new technology. As tariff schemes last around 20 years this gives the industry the time required to invest in and develop production techniques which, in turn, helps bring down the price of renewable energy.
The UK’s dependency on imported fossil fuels has been growing rapidly for some time. By helping to lower the costs of the technologies that are tackling climate change, the government can help reduce that dependency along with the UK’s carbon footprint. This book is primarily concerned with on-grid solar PV technology and getting the most from the Feed In Tariff scheme associated with it but there are other potential green revenue sources that should be considered and compared, including:
Wind Turbines - which may be free standing or building mounted
Hydroelectricity – electricity produced by water power
Anaerobic Digestion – power produced by the breakdown of organic materials to produce gas
Micro Combined Heat and Power - heating technology which generates heat and electricity simultaneously, from the same energy source - (Micro CHP is limited to a pilot scheme at this stage)
Forty percent of Europe’s wind energy blows across the UK, opening up the possibility of generating electricity for the home from small scale wind turbines. Small wind turbines or micro-wind systems can harness the power of the wind then use it to generate electricity that can help power domestic lighting and electrical appliances. Once installed, wind turbines can be integrated into the electricity grid in a similar way to solar panels. A particular benefit of wind turbines is their ability to continue generating power at night and throughout the winter.
Most of us are familiar with free-standing wind turbines but there is a type of turbine that has been designed for mounting on a building. The style and efficiency varies from one manufacturer to another but it’s generally accepted that a building-mounted wind turbine will not generate as much electricity as its pole or tower- mounted counterpart. A building-mounted turbine is far less costly to install than a free standing version, where the construction of its foundations have to be considered. As with other technologies, what’s right for the location has to be considered along with how much power is required for the site and what return can be made.
Unlike roof-mounted solar panels, there are moving parts involved with wind turbines and the combination of weight and vibration could add stress to the fabric of the building. Just as one would consider the strength of a roof before installing solar panels, structural advice should
be sought prior to installing wind turbines. The wind blowing from Europe will not affect all parts of the UK in the same way so location has to be considered carefully. Local wind speeds are very important to the system’s efficiency. It’s recommended by The Energy Saving Trust that average wind speed needs to be 5 metres per second, 11 miles per hour or more. Obstructions to the flow of wind from trees or buildings and even the height at which the wind turbine is placed
will also have an effect on the amount of electricity that can be generated. Again, like solar panels, the system and the installer have to be MCS accredited to be eligible for the FIT scheme.
Eligible turbines installed prior to 31 March 2012 will receive the following tariffs:
Turbine Size Generation Tariff Export Tariff:
<1.5kW 34.5p/kWh 3p/kWh
>1.5-15kW 26.7p/kWh 3p/kWh
These are index-linked for 20 years.
Other Things To Consider About Wind Turbines
The capital outlay and installation costs for a wind turbine system can be quite high compared to some other technologies. This depends on the model and whether it’s building-mounted or free-standing. Unlike solar PV panel systems that only require planning permission if they are for heritage buildings or on conservation areas, all wind turbine installations require planning permission at this time. Although solar panels have no moving parts, therefore emit no noise, the same cannot be said of wind turbines. The amount of noise generated will vary but a working turbine cannot be completely silent as there are two sources of sound. The first and most obvious is the sound of the blades rotating, which is unlikely to be much of a problem unless you are very close to them or it’s particularly windy. The main source of noise will come from the generator as the blades rotate coupled with unavoidable vibration. This will be more
noticeable during high winds when more energy is being produced and resonate through whatever the turbine is attached to.
Hydroelectricity systems work by harnessing the power of moving water in order to generate sufficient electricity to power the lighting and electrical appliances of an average sized home.
If the hydro system is sufficient to replace electricity that would normally be bought from the national grid, then savings could be quite substantial. Hydroelectricity systems can also be connected to the grid and are eligible to receive the Feed In Tariff. A 15kW system or smaller could qualify for a generation tariff of up to 19.9p/kWh and an exported tariff of 1p/kWh.
Other Things To Consider About Hydroelectricity
This technology is dependent on access to fairly fast flowing water sothere are three main things to consider:
1. Is there a suitable river or stream close to the property?
2. Not only is access to a fast-flowing water course required but also the permission to build round it.
3. Is the water flow pretty consistent throughout the year or does it vary during a dry period when a significantly reduced flow may leave a shortfall in electricity requirements for that time?
It is necessary to have an Abstraction Licence. This is obtained from the Environment Agency or the Scottish Environment Protection Agency.
Anaerobic Digestion is a process where micro organisms break down biodegradable materials producing a methane and carbon dioxide bio-gas that can be used to replace fossil fuels as an energy source. The widespread use of this technology would greatly reduce the amount of
organic waste that would otherwise be used in landfill or have to be incinerated.
The bio-gas produced can be used for heating and cooking in the home and converted to bio-methane for injection into the national grid making it eligible for FITs. The size of the tariff is still under some debate.Anaerobic digesters for the home are not really viable at this time.
This is due to a couple of main reasons, the first being that the average household doesn’t produce enough biodegradable waste and would only be able to generate around 4% of the energy a typical household would use in a year. Secondly, a digester has to be big enough to reach the
optimal temperature of 35OC in order to produce bio-gas – again, this just isn’t practical in a domestic situation.
One viable possibility for its use could be as a community project, providing the right planning permissions and licences could be acquired. The bio-gas and fertilizer by-product could be sold. The most practical application at this time seems to be for farmers, where there is more space to build asuitable sized plant and the potential for far more biodegradable waste.
Tariff from 1 April 2011
<500 kW AD System 12.1p/kWh
>500 kW AD System 9.4p/kWh
<250 kW AD System 14p/kWh
>250 - 500 kW AD System 13p/kWh
Subject to the outcome of parliamentary consultation, revised tariffs will
be introduced from 1 August 2011.
Other Things To Consider About Anaerobic Digestion
It’s currently being debated whether the tariff proposed is high enough to make investing in this technology worthwhile.Depending on the size of system required, planning permission may
be needed and it’s certainly advisable to discuss any plans in full with local planning authorities before having an AD system installed.
Micro Combined Heat and Power (Micro-CHP)
Micro-CHP refers to a form of heating that produces electricity from the same source at the same time. At the moment that source is usually mains gas or liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) but Micro-CHP systems canalso be fuelled by oil or bio-fuels. Although gas and oil are fossil fuels and therefore not classed as renewable energy sources, this system still qualifies as low carbon
technology. Generating heat and electricity at the same time is far more energy efficient than burning fossil fuel for heating purposes and then getting whatever electricity is required for the home via the grid.
A Micro-CHP system used in a typical domestic setting would be expected to generate around 1kW of electricity per hour, which is sufficient power for the lighting and electrical appliances of most households. Just like other modern boilers used in the home, Micro-CHP systems
are about the same size and shape and can be wall mounted or floor standing. The only significant difference is their ability to generate electricity at the same time as heating water - as a by-product of that heat. Therefore, Micro-CHP technology is also eligible for the
government’s FIT scheme, providing the householder with a generation
tariff of 10.5p/kWh and an export tariff of 3p/kWh. However, this is a pilot scheme that will support up to 30,000 installations with a review to commence with the completion of the 12,000th installation.
Other Things To Consider About Micro-CHP
Micro-CHP only generates electricity when there is a requirement for heat also. That means this technology is most effective for use in houses where heat demand is high. For instance, older buildings where the usual means of reducing heat demand, like improved insulation and draught
exclusion, doesn’t work and other low carbon heat generators like wood stoves are ineffective.
Renewable Heat Incentives (RHI)
Apart from the Feed In Tariff scheme, there is also the Renewable Heat Incentives (RHI) scheme.
March 2011 saw the government announce details of the RHI which was expressly designed to provide financial backing and encouragement for people to switch from using fossil fuels for heating to renewableenergy alternatives. For domestic users there will be two phases to the scheme. The first is the Premium Payment Phase which is a one-off payment and comes into effect from July 2011. It’s worth £1.5 million and available to 25,000 UK households who install renewable heat from that date. The exact amounts that will be available for different technologies have not yet been confirmed but the Department of Energy and Climate Change
(DECC) suggests the following:
Phase 1 - Short Term One-Off Premium Payments
Solar Thermal £300/unit
Air Source Heat Pumps £850/unit
Biomass Boilers £950/unit
Ground Source Heat Pumps £1,250/unit
Recipients will have to ensure that they have an energyperformance certificate to show they have a well-insulated home and must agree to give feedback on how the equipment performs.
Phase 2 - Long Term Tariff
Those in receipt of Renewable Heat Premium Payments will also be able to receive long term RHI tariff support, once it’s introduced, and anyone who installed eligible technology from 15 July 2009 will also be able to benefit from the Phase 2 tariff. There are still some things that need to be clarified concerning air source heat pumps. Although they are definitely included in the Phase
1, one-off Premium Payment, their inclusion in the tariff payment will depend on consumer feedback related to their performance. The tariffs will commence from October 2012.
The Green Deal
The government’s Green Deal is another mechanism for helping consumers finance energy efficient improvements to their homes without upfront costs. Payment is recouped via a charge applied to their energy bill. It’s paid in instalments, along with their utility bill which should be
less due to the savings made. It’s not a conventional loan, as the bill-payer isn’t responsible for
the full cost of the system on the charges due on the bills they pay. Once the bill-payer moves out of the property the obligation is transferred to the next bill-payer. The contractual liability of the customer is with theenergy provider. Before finance is available and work carried out on the property an accredited adviser must recommend an appropriate solution, after carrying out an assessment of the property in question. The adviser will be in a position to give customers a broad range of information about how they might best improve the sustainability of their homes and notjust focus on one particular system. The advice given must also be appropriate to the terms of the Consumer Credit Act which means taking into account an applicant’s individual circumstances.There are a number of safeguards in place to protect the consumer and the ‘golden rule’ of The Green Deal is that the expected financial savings must be equal to or greater than the costs attached to the energy bill. The recommended work must also be carried out by an accredited installer.
Frequently Asked Questions About Green Sources Of Revenue
Q: Will a wind turbine mounted on my property cause damage to its structure?
A: Buildings are designed to take compressive loads - a pressure that flattens rather than lateral loads associated with wind resistance and which a building- mounted wind turbine would impart. The vibration caused would be transmitted to the building and could cause structural damage.
Q: How can I tell if hydroelectricity will work for my home?
A: Hydroelectricity will not be suitable for every home due to its dependency on a nearby source of flowing water like a stream, river or weir, so that’s the main consideration. After that, you
would need to know about the practicalities like seasonal variations in water flow and accessibility. There is free guidance to help you to find answers to all these questions and more
from your nearest Energy Saving Trust advice centre.
Q: What is the main health and safety issue with anaerobic digestion systems?
A: Fire. Bio-gas is combustible.
Q: How difficult is it to have a Micro-CHP unit installed?
A: If you already have a conventional boiler, it’s easy enough to
replace it with a Micro-CHP unit as they’re about the same size.
It’s not a complex procedure when performed by a qualified installer and electrician.
Q: Will tariffs specific to Micro-CHP be considered in the future?
A: Yes and they will be in conjunction with the Renewable Obligation tariffs for
combined heat and power.
Q: Do I have to pay tax on my tariffs?
A: The government announced that income from Feed In Tariffs
would be tax free for householders installing systems largely
for their own use. Similarly, Renewable Heat Incentive income
will also be exempt from tax.
Q: Can RHI payments be re-assigned to someone else in the
same way as FIT?
A: No. Only the owner of the installation will be able to receive
the RHI payments. They cannot be assigned to others.