Our top five tips when determining the feasibility of different renewable energy solutions are:
- Don’t guess – measure. Always carefully analyse your current and future energy use. Ensure you have a clear plan to reduce it and then understand what the expected mixture of heating, cooling and power needs will be. It is a requirement of the Microgeneration Certification Scheme that the requirements are calculated using the Government’s Standard Assessment Process (SAP).
- Think outputs not sizes. A renewable energy system’s efficiency is measured by its outputs, so always consider overall system performance and how it is going to work with your existing systems. A compliant quotation must provide you with this information. Two apparently same sized systems could give very different annual performance figures depending on how it is designed and installed.
- One solution does not fit all. Your project is unique. The right solution depends on a number of factors, including the type and condition of the building, its location, orientation, neighbours, site access, grid access and many other considerations. Make sure you think about heat and hot water first, as this is often the biggest energy use in a building. Only when the requirements and the options have been properly assessed can a shortlist of candidate solutions be evaluated and a proper business case and design be produced.
- Investigate the incentives. The Green Energy Cash Back scheme is designed to pay you for becoming a renewable energy generator. Each system, whether a solar hot water system, biomass boiler, heat pump, solar PV system or wind turbine will pay you a different tariff for a different period of time. When considering installing a renewable energy system, it is important to weigh up the short term costs against the longer term benefits.
- Be prepared to change your habits. A renewable energy system will be taking advantage of free or cheap sources of energy but cannot be turned on at the flick of a switch. You will become much more aware of the environment when you start to see how your own energy generating unit performs. Not only will you want to take advantage of free hot water or free electricity when the sun comes out, but you will find yourself switching things off when they aren’t required and even giving guided tours of your own energy generation plant.