As energy bills continue to rise, is it time to consider renewable energy solutions for your home or business?
7th February 2012
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Energy bills continue their inexorable rise, fossil fuels become practically and politically harder to obtain cheaply - and at the same time the incentives that have been available for the generation of renewable electricity face certain cuts.

The Government currently is involved in a protracted legal battle to try and reduce the subsidy for solar PV in particular - their initial numbers were far too generous and have resulted in a scramble for solar before the window closes and the rates are dramatically cut back. However even when the tariffs are slashed, there remain renewable energy solutions you could consider to help cut energy costs in the long term.

A common solution...
is the installation of solar panels, either to supply heat for domestic hot water or to generate electricity. At present, the electricity generation entitles you to a subsidy called the Feed in Tariff (FIT) which is a guaranteed index-linked payment over 25 years, dependant on the amount of electricity you generate. From October 2012 the generation of renewable heat (rather than electricity) by solar, heat pumps or biomass will also qualify for a Renewal Heat Incentive (RHI) subsidy, providing the eligibility criteria are met. This will include any such systems installed after 15 July 2009, although the amount of the incentive is not yet known.

Bear in mind any planning implications to installing solar panels - if your property is listed (or in the curtilege of a listed building) or in a conservation area you will need to get prior consent. Also ensure your supplier is Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS) accredited if you want to be eligible for the both the FIT and RHI subsidies.

Opportunities and alternatives
Larger properties consequently have larger opportunities. Outbuildings, stables and commercial premises (preferably with a south-facing roof!) allow larger solar arrays or biomass boilers. Despite the larger up-front costs you also get larger returns - but note the rate of the subsidy reduces as the output rises.

In addition to solar technologies, if you have a fair amount of land then small to medium scale wind generation may also be a possibility for you. We act for a number of developers of smaller scale wind turbines who are increasingly finding favour in a planning climate where big wind turbines face enormous local opposition. Hydro-electricity is a great option depending on your circumstances, although admittedly planning and environment agency hurdles are tough to overcome.

Seeking support and advice
Regardless of the size of energy solutions you are considering, be sure to seek specialist advice from a recognised renewable energy expert prior to proceeding.

If you would like to speak to a renewable energy specialist about your options, contact head of department Richard Williams on 0844 3463134 or for impartial advice and assistance.

You may also find this Citizens Advice BBC article on money saving energy tips interesting.

About the Author

Paul D

Member since: 10th July 2012

Chester word of mouth specialist, promotes and markets the best businesses in Chester. Passionately supporting local businesses, organisations and events.

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