Let the feed-in frenzy commence

july10wm.jpgHelping you to choose the best opportunities offered by new small-scale renewable energy incentives.

Introduced on 1 April, the Feed in Tariff Scheme is exciting news for anyone with a possible small wind, hydro or solar photovoltaic (PV) scheme in mind. Likewise the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI), for which the Scottish Government’s response to the consultation is eagerly awaited, presents potentially lucrative possibilities.

Much is being published about the whys and wherefores of these arrangements, but most householders and landowners will still be wondering about the hows and whethers. If you have a hill, burn, large shed roof and huge heating bills, how do you apply your resources between wind, hydro or solar PV generation or producing renewable heat using biomass or heat pumps? The glib answer is that this complex matter is best put to an independent renewable energy specialist who will conduct an options appraisal and advise you, but the purpose of this article is to give you a head start.

The designers of the new incentive schemes have set the tariffs to give wind, hydro and PV a similar return on investment; 7-8%/year. To help overcome the higher perceived risks of venturing into wood and heat pump heating the target is expected to be more like 12%/year. So, all things being equal, renewable heat should be the more lucrative. We’ll just have to wait until late 2010 for fi nal details of the RHI. Here is a checklist of requirements to assist with your very own options appraisal:

Wood chip heating regular and high demand for heat (min 45kW) and lots of space within c.50m of the building for fuel storage, close to the large boiler and thermal store;

Wood pellet heating regular demand for heat and adjacent space for large boiler within 12m of pellet store;

Wind generation high site with very open aspect in all directions, no trees, buildings or high ground within several 100 metres between South East and West and a nearby grid connection;

Hydro generation steeply falling, noisy watercourse with catchment area of 100s or 1,000s of hectares, ideally on Western side of country where annual rainfall exceeds 2m;

Heat pump heating well insulated, draught-proof building, space for bulky equipment (but insuffi cient to store/deliver biomass) and no access to mains gas;

Solar PV generation large expanse of structurally strong roof facing between SE and SW or a secure area of unshaded ground which can be ‘set aside’ to PV for 25 years;

Solar water heating high and regular demand, particularly in summer, for water currently heated by electric immersion, oil or LPG and sound, unshaded roof near to the demand with space for storage tank.

Your investigations should start with whichever of these best describes your situation. If more than one does, then begin with the highest up the list. However, if none seem to fi t your circumstances exactly, don’t despair but don’t expect such a thrilling investment return.

As an example of potential returns; on a good open site, a 10kW wind turbine, overall height around 20m, should cost £48,000 to install and provide net revenue of £8,000+/year. Hot tips: Don’t compromise on quality and get independent advice.

Bell Ingram is holding a number of microgeneration seminars across Scotland later this year. Go to www.bellingram.co.uk to ensure you stay informed.

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