Article from: Energy in Buildings & Industry Magazine – June 2012
Coming out of the Shade While the Feed-in Tariff has grabbed the headlines, the Government has launched a similar scheme for non-domestic solar heating. Stuart Elmes looks for the best opportunities.
At the end of 2011 it seemed that photovoltaic solar energy (PV) was always in the news, with legal challenges to the Government’s management of the Feed-in Tariff (FIT) and a rush to install before tariff rates dropped. Among all of this, it would have been easy to miss the fact that a similar cash-back scheme for renewable heat technologies, including solar thermal, was launched in November.
The Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) supports the installation of biomass heating systems, heat pumps and solar thermal systems, as well as the combustion of biogas, in all buildings except single domestic premises. In the case of solar thermal, it pays the owner of the system 8.9 pence per kilowatt-hour (kWh) of useful heat, with the tariff index-linked over the duration of the scheme. The system owner can claim the cash-back every quarter for 20 years from the date of registration.
Eligible buildings include commercial buildings or groups of houses or apartments served by a single communal solar system. Single domestic buildings are intended to come under the scheme during summer 2013, with a consultation expected to be launched this September.
Attractive heat load - Any building that has a need for hot water provides an opportunity to deploy solar thermal, but some buildings have a heat load that is more attractive than others. These include:
Enormous Potential: An EU research programme, So-Pro (http://www.solar-process-heat.eu), identifies an enormous potential for utilising solar in industrial applications. Many national markets across the EU boast levels of solar thermal deployment for residential buildings which leave the UK far behind, but when it comes to industrial applications, we’re all just getting started.
The RHI is the first scheme of its kind in the world, and could act as a real driver for businesses that use heat in their industrial processes to consider using solar thermal to reduce their dependence on fossil fuel energy, saving on bills and getting cash-back from the Government for doing so.
So-Pro estimates that 30 per cent of total industrial heat demand is at temperatures below 100˚C, and may therefore be suitable for solar heating. The programme highlights a number of case studies where solar energy was successfully deployed in an industrial setting:
The successful implementation of these bespoke renewable energy installations was found to require close cooperation between M&E contractors with a detailed understanding of their customers’ heating processes and technically competent solar suppliers or installers that could ensure the design achieved efficient use of the solar technology.
With the advent of the RHI, the stage is set for heating companies to help their customers cost-effectively reduce fossil fuel use in a wide range of commercial heating applications.