Green Technologies – A New Way Forward

The Government recently announced details of its Renewable Heat Incentive Scheme where homeowners who install green technologies will be eligible for incentive payments. We look at the scheme and the challenges faced in installing the most popular renewable heat technology, solar power.

 What Is The Scheme?

Renewable energy sources such as solar thermal, heat pump and biomass technology are a vital element in the long-term energy strategy for the UK. It is widely accepted that reliance on fossil fuels is not sustainable and that alternative sources of power are necessary in order to diminish our dependence on non-UK sourced power, cut energy bills and reduce our carbon footprint.

Households which have installed Renewable Heat Technology (RHI) since July 2009 and those which do so in the future, will soon be eligible for cash incentives. The Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) has announced tariff rates of 18.8p/kWh for ground source heat pumps 7.3p/kWh for air source heat pumps, 19.2p/kWh for solar thermal systems and 12.2p/kWh for biomass boilers. These rates have been specifically set to compensate householders for the difference in cost of installing and running renewable energy systems and the cost of running fossil fuel systems over 20 years.

Homeowners must demonstrate that their properties comply with minimum insulation standards, as laid out in the Green Deal assessment requirements. Green deal assessors produce an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) which gives details of how energy-efficient your home is, on a scale from A – G, as well as an Occupancy Assessment which details how you currently use energy in your home. This information will allow homeowners to make a decision on whether their home is suitable for alternative technology and what kind they should install.

Solar Power

Currently the UK’s favourite green energy technology, solar power installations have increased dramatically as more people become aware of the advantages of not only producing their own hot water and heat, but selling excess energy to the National grid. It also attracts the highest RHI tariff which should increase its popularity further.

However, there are several important factors which householders must consider when deciding on the solar option, including problems which may occur during assessment and installation. Difficulty accessing roofs can pose a major problem, with some properties not being suitable for traditional scaffolding. Additionally, many roof systems, particularly on older properties, are simply not designed to bear the weight of solar panels (or the personnel required to install and maintain them).

This means that installation companies must be resourceful when attempting to access roofs and must think of alternative means for both the preparation required as well as installation and maintenance.

One ingenious and cost-effective solution is to use a tracked spider in order to complete both initial inspections and to carry out the required work. These tracked access platforms have been designed to reach places that prove problematical for traditional cherry pickers and lifts and they provide access into tight, narrow and high spaces with ease.