A simple low-carbon energy strategy

Here is a simple low-carbon strategy that could form the starting point for achieving a low-carbon estate.

Programme:

Plan a concurrent programme of heat and power conversions. Think total cost and net benefit. Don’t be put off by the scale of it – it will be worth it.

Money:

  • Make maximum use of UK Government index-linked, 20-year guaranteed subsidies. (Free money).
  • Use own capital for installations if possible, but if none available, use 3rd-party finance on a pay as you save basis or use an ESCO, rather than delaying projects.
  • Check you are getting all the available tax breaks.

Power options: 

Solar PV and LEDs are the most commoditised, least risky power technologies:

  • Maximum use of solar PV, on sites that achieve best combination of grid power savings and government subsidy rates per kW installed. NB impending 1st April 2019 deadline for subsidies on new[1] installations, so this is a 2018 project.
  • Whole estate conversion to LEDs, as best means to reduce power consumption and save most money quickly. If too daunting, do it in phases; but don’t wait until existing lamps fail – false economy.
  • Consider potential for more innovative technologies. E.g:
    • Any rights on local moving water? Hydro may be feasible.
    • Spare land? Grid-balancing may be feasible, to generate revenue.

Heat options: for Estates on Oil, LPG or Electric Heating.

Essential to convert to low-carbon completely – if at all possible – by January 2021, to beat the heat subsidy deadline of 31st March 2021 for new[1] installations:

  • Options likely to be either Ground Source Heat Pump (GSHP) or Biomass. Choice driven by real estate available and building fabric.
  • Both attract large subsidies if done correctly.

[1]. Cannot stress enough that these are only the deadlines for new installations to qualify for subsidies. Existing qualifying installations will continue to draw the 20-year, index-linked subsidy.

Heat options: for Estates on Main Gas.

Mains gas is currently the cheapest form of heat:

  • Stick to gas for heating – most cost-effective and logistically convenient.
  • Biomass won’t be cost-effective for an estate on mains gas; nor logistically desirable.
  • Possible variations:
    • Gas CHP where there is a high continuous heat load, eg swimming pool.
    • Ground Source Heat Pumps (GSHP) an option for new builds, especially if you wish to be proactive about achieving low-carbon status.
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