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eco retrofit for commercial buildings
About Feed-In-Tariffs
The FIT scheme offers an index linked, 25-year Government backed investment, with a potential return in excess of 9%. Every unit of electricity produced from solar PV panels, wind, hydro or CHP earns the tariff, not just surplus electricity you can’t use yourself. The highest tariff is 41.3p per unit, payable for Solar PV systems below 4kW, installed on the roof of an existing building. For budget supply & install costs please send us your name, address & postcode.
A good time to switch to renewable fuels?

Most of the energy consumed in a building is used to provide heating, cooling or lighting. The rest is used to run other electric ‘things', like computers, machinery, catering or home entertainment. Most of us use oil or gas for heating, which comes down a big pipe from places like Russia; otherwise we're using electricity, which is generated in a power station by burning gas or oil, or coal, the most carbon intensive fossil fuel. Some electricity comes from nuclear and a bit from wind.

Gas, oil and coal take millions of years to produce, so they're certainly not what you call renewable fuels. You can't plant a new oil field then start coppicing it 5 years later. Fossil fuels are getting harder to find and harder to extract from the earth. With a growing thirst for energy from emerging economies, we've now reached the turning point where supply can no longer keep up with demand. The net result means higher and higher prices for energy, oil, and anything that uses energy or oil. Factor in penalties for emitting carbon and rewards for not emitting it, and it’s easy to see why now is a good time to switch to renewable fuels.

Where does the energy come from?

eco retrofit advice from the EST Sunshine

Radiation from the sun can be used to generate heat or power (electricity):

Solar photovoltaics - PV panels are used to convert solar energy into electricity, which can then be sold back to the national grid. Different types and numbers of panels produce a different amount of electricity. With an approved system under the Feed-In-Tariff scheme, every unit (kWh) the panels produce earns up to 41 pence, around four times what it costs to buy a unit. The FIT scheme offers PV owners an index linked, 25-year government backed return on investment, often in excess of 9%.
Solar thermal - Evacuated tubes or flat plate panels are used to collect the suns heat and use it to warm water. This warm water is then pumped around a loop of pipe, through the panels and then through a standard unvented water cylinder. You then use clean hot water in the cylinder for washing, cleaning and cooking. Depending on the amount of sun and the amount of collectors, a solar thermal system will typically provide around two thirds of a family’s domestic hot water requirements. The rest is supplemented by a regular boiler or immersion heater. The Renewable Heat Incentives (RHIs) apply for solar thermal, other incentives are comparatively lower capital costs (compared for solar PV) and free hot water for life, or at least the life of the system.

eco retrofit advice from the EST Wind

High tech propeller blades connected to a turbine on a long pole or tower, spin in the wind to generate electricity. Every unit generated earns a Feed-In-Tariff, although the rate is lower than a unit generated by a solar PV panel. Wind turbines are ideal if you live in an elevated, non-urban location with friendly neighbours and a moderate, regular prevailing wind; otherwise the viability is questionable.

Estimates claim as little as 10% of the UK landmass is suitable for wind power.

eco retrofit advice from the EST The earth

Heat below the ground can be harnessed and used to provide hot water, which in turn can provide central or preferably underfloor heating. A ground source heat pump circulates a mixture of water and antifreeze around a loop of pipe, buried underground. This ground loop is either buried deep in a bore hole or just below the surface over a wider area. Heat from the ground is absorbed into the fluid and then pumped through a heat exchanger, where it's concentrated using a compressor into a higher temperature fluid capable of heating water. The technology is similar to a fridge, only working in reverse.

Heat pumps like to run continuously, so excess heat is stored in a vessel, normally a piggyback hot water cylinder, where it's available on tap whenever necessary. With an approved system under the Renewable Heat Incentive scheme, every unit of heat produced (thermal kW) will earn a tariff.

eco retrofit advice from the EST The air

Air source heat pumps are similar in principle to ground source heat pumps, only they absorb ambient heat from outdoor air. Air source heat pump performance tends to vary according to the weather, but they're still efficient and normally less expensive as there's no digging required.

At the moment air source heat pumps are not eligible for the Renewable Heat Incentive scheme, although they may be soon as the technology improves. The latest ASHP's are now capable of delivering 65oC water temperature, so in an energy efficient house they can act as a direct replacement for a conventional boiler.

eco retrofit advice from the EST Natural (bio) fuel

Natural fuel or 'biomass' could describe anything from cow poo to food waste, although the most common fuels are dried wood chips and wood pellets made from sawdust. Biomass fuels are considered (almost) carbon neutral* and are becoming more and more readily available. Burning wood has come on along way since the middle ages thanks to new technology and super efficient boilers, with pellet silos and automatic feeds, running a wood fuel heating system can be done at the push of a button.

Storing biomass fuel on site requires more room, the upfront costs are higher and there's a little more maintenance involved, but fortunately biomass boilers are eligible for the Renewable Heat Incentives, which should more than make up for any added cost or inconvenience.

* When timber is burned it releases the same amount of carbon as it absorbed while it was growing. Letting it rot also releases the same amount of carbon, so it make sense to plant lots of trees and start burning timber, at least more than we are doing.

What are the (financial) incentives?

eco retrofit advice from the EST Feed-In-Tariffs (FITs)

The Feed-In-Tariff (FIT) scheme rewards people for producing 'clean' electricity by harnessing the power of nature, typically solar power, wind or water (aka hydro). Combined heat and power generation is also eligible for FITs. For every unit (kWh) of electricity generated and fed back to the national grid the UK government pays a fee. The size of the fee depends on the type and size of the system. The highest per-unit tariff available is 43.3 pence. To qualify you need a solar PV system below 4kW peak performance fitted to the roof of an existing building.

The FIT scheme offers an index linked 25-year investment, with a potential return in excess of 9%. Every unit of electricity produced earns the tariff, not just any surplus electricity you can’t use yourself.

eco retrofit advice from the EST Renewable Heat Incentives (RHIs)

The UK government has formally announced the launch of the worlds first Renewable Heat Incentive, a similar scheme to the Feed-in-Tariff only it pays for heat generated instead of electricity. For every unit of heat produced (kW thermal) the owner/operator of an approved (commercial) heating system will earn between 1.9 pence and 8.5 pence for the next 20 years, depending on the type, size and output of the system. The most lucrative renewable heating systems in terms of RHI are solar thermal and biomass below 200kW peak performance.

According to the current plans, payments for commercial installations will begin in 2011 and domestic in 2012, although you can begin installing approved technology now in preparation. A one off payment may also be available to encourage people to switch.


Solarcrest are committed to carbon reduction, so we always aim to provide the most appropriate and cost effective renewable energy solutions. After all, what’s best for you is normally best for the environment. If you want to secure your energy, earn Feed-In-Tariffs, meet code level 3/4 renewable obligations, or just find out what your best options are please email microgeneration and renewable energy