Why Renewables?

In little more than 100 years humanity has burned a large percentage of the oil, gas and coal reserves that took so many millions of years to form. The resulting carbon imbalance is at the heart of our modern predicament. The continued consumption of these fossil fuels is increasing the concentration of CO2 in our atmosphere resulting in climate change.

We have known for a long time that oil and gas supplies are finite and that demand will outstrip supply over the coming years. Add to this the ongoing political instability in many oil producing regions and the result is irreversible cost increase and rising tension between the ‘haves’ and ‘have-nots’.

Meanwhile the demand for oil and gas, particularly in China and India, adds to the pressure on ability to supply fossil fuels. This poses us several major problems; global warming, rapidly rising costs and strategic concerns regarding security of fuel supply.

Renewable Energy (RE) as the name suggests, will not run out. RE technologies utilising the sun, wind, waves, tides and rivers do not produce CO2. Biofuels such as wood liberate only as much CO2 when burned as they take-up from the atmosphere while they grow. In short, by taking up RE alternatives the trend of rising CO2 can be managed and, in time, reduced.

By incorporating RE technologies into your business or home you will reduce CO2 emissions and running costs compared to oil and gas. Because RE is produced on-site, this leads to increased independence and security of supply and greater energy price stability.

Carbon Zero Consulting can analyse your heating, cooling and energy demand and provide you with design options that consider the renewable energy resource potential for your site. The impact of the Climate Change Bill is now being felt with Feed-in Tariffs and Renewable Heat Incentive payments to generators of renewable power and heat. The ‘Green Deal’ is the next step which will provide finance for those wishing to install energy saving measures on their home or business. Now is the time to to consider your future energy needs.

Current renewable schemes and policies

Over the last 30 years or more, the UK has found itself in a privileged position with a plentiful supply of home-produced oil and gas as well as an excellent distribution system. Most homes and businesses have had the option to connect to (cheap) mains gas. However, this is now changing as we are no longer self-sufficient and as a consequence, are open to political and market volatility.

This, in our view at Carbon Zero Consulting, is the major driver to promote the uptake of Renewable Energy Technologies. The other main driver is new UK regulation, which can provide you with incentives to install Renewable Energy Technology, and can pay you to produce green energy. The table below shows how much you could earn under the Renewable Heat Incentive scheme.

In 2011, the UK Energy Act provided the basis for a step change in the provision of Renewable Energy alternatives for domestic homes and businesses.

The main policies covering Renewable Energy are:

Feed-in Tariffs (FIT)

The purpose of the Feed In Tariffs, is to encourage deployment of small-scale (less than 5MW) renewable electricity generation. The technologies currently covered by the FITs are: solar photovoltaics (PV), also known as solar panels, hydro-electric schemes, anaerobic digestion (AD), also known as biomass energy, wind power and domestic scale microCHP (micro combined heat and power).
The goal is to encourage uptake of investment in small-scale renewable electricity by providing financial incentives for power generated by renewable means. Power generators (such as solar panels) receive payment from the electricity supplier of their choice for the electricity they generate and use, as well as payment for unused electricity exported back to the grid.

Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI)

The Renewable Heat Incentive is a tariff scheme similar to the FITs, payable to energy users generating their own renewable heat. The first phase of the scheme is for non-domestic heat generation, which came in to force at the end of November 2011. The technologies supported include:
  • Ground source heat pumps
  • Deep Geothermal
  • Biomass boilers
  • Air source heat pumps
  • Solar thermal
The Domestic Renewable Heat Incentive (Domestic RHI) is the second phase of the RHI scheme to support household schemes. Implementation was in May of 2014 and is designed to align with the Green Deal.

Renewables Obligation (RO)

The Renewables Obligation (RO) is the mechanism for supporting large-scale generation of renewable electricity. The RO works by placing an obligation on licensed electricity suppliers to source a specified and annually increasing proportion of their electricity sales from renewable sources. Electricity suppliers can purchase Renewable Obligation Certificates (ROCs) from accredited renewable electricity generators.
For more information, please see the Renewables Obligation.

Renewable Energy Services

Carbon Zero Consulting’s major area of expertise is in Ground Source Heating and Cooling. However, we are also very knowledgeable and experienced in other areas of renewable heat and power.

1. Renewable technology appraisal

As independent consultants, our first service is to provide you with a detailed, pragmatic appraisal of your options for renewable heat and power. Carbon Zero Consulting will advise you of technologies that suit your circumstance – and those that do not. All buildings and clients are different in their characteristics and requirements and so every situation should be considered in its own light – without preconception.

2. Heat loss assessments

Understanding the heat loss characteristics of your building is key to successful renewable energy design. It is pointless installing a low temperature heat pump system in a draughty, un-insulated building with old radiators unless major changes are made to the building fabric. We have the skills to analyse heat loss (and gain) for buildings of all sizes and types. This might be achieved through calculation or detailed room by room modelling. The output is used to specify renewable heat technologies capable of maintaining required room temperature – at the right price.

For smaller renewable energy schemes, heat loss calculations are essential for compliance with the Micro generation Certification Scheme (MCS) and required in order to receive Renewable Heat Incentive payments.

If you are confused or have queries regarding MCS, the RHI or the Green Deal then please give us a call and we will be happy to guide you through the various procedures – and help you on the road to replacing your existing gas or oil with a suitable renewable heating alternative.

3. Biomass and Solar Thermal

Biomass boilers burn a variety of fuels: wood chip and wood pellet and, less commonly, logs or straw/miscanthus bales. The heat produced is used to provide central heating and hot water in the same manner and at the same temperature as a gas or oil boiler. Biomass systems, also known as anaerobic digestion, are eligible to receive RHI payments for renewable heat delivered, at a rate of 12.2p per kWh for domestic biomass systems, and between 2 and 7.6p for commercial biomass generators.

Carbon Zero Consulting have designed biomass heating systems for large commercial installations as well as domestic properties,  all tailored to the specific needs of the client following from conceptual design through to completion and commissioning.

Solar thermal systems, (not to be confused with photovoltaic, or PV, panels, which generate electricity) capture solar energy to produce domestic hot water (DHW). Solar thermal systems can also, though less easily, contribute to space-heating. During summer months, a solar thermal system can meet the entire requirement for domestic (and some commercial) DHW. Overall, a well-designed solar thermal system consisting of good quality components will deliver up to 60% of the annual demand for domestic hot water (DHW).

4. Thermal Response Testing and Soil Thermal Conductivity surveys

See specific sections of our website for further detail – Thermal Response Testing and Soil Thermal Conductivity.

Case Study: a typical project

A recent project that brought the skills of the Carbon Zero Consulting team together is our work for the Nottinghamshire Police HQ.

We provided an appraisal of options to replace their large oil boilers (over 1.4MW) with green biomass technology. Although the underlying geology was suited to the specification of a ground source heating scheme, we concluded that the building fabric and heat emitters could not be economically refurbished to allow the use of low temperature heat pump technology. Biomass boilers have been specified and we have successfully managed the process from heat loss modelling, boiler system specification, a tender process and installation. Solar thermal panels are also being considered to provide renewable hot water for a new shower block to be constructed at the HQ site.

small renewable energy project

Other Renewable Sectors

Carbon Zero Consulting are leading specialists in the fields of Ground Source Heat Pumps, Alternative Water Supply and Biomass. Unlike some – we don’t pretend to know everything about all other renewable technologies!

However, we have experience of, and are able to provide good engineering advice on, the potential for combining renewable heating with solar technologies. We also provide advice, feasibility assessment and regulatory compliance support for smaller wind power and hydro-electric projects and specialised input to deep-geothermal assessment.

For larger wind and hydro schemes we can provide excellent links with similarly minded small companies specialising in these areas.