Generating electricity from renewable sources seems to be a flagship for the carbon neutral movement. Everyone knows what a wind turbine is, or a solar panel. But very rarely do we ever see them in practice, and not without reason. Every step of installing such an item can cause problems. It can be a major issue just getting to grips with the terminology, so let’s take it one step at a time.
Types of system
There are two types of electrical system for connecting generators to your home – the standalone system, whereby all your electricity comes from your devices, and the grid-connected system whereby you are still connected to the grid, but you only draw some of your electricity from the device.
THE STANDALONE SYSTEM
The standalone system is suitable for a remote farm, for example, where the cost of being connected to the grid is so high that it would be a similar cost to set up your own generation system. The issue here is what happens when there isn’t enough supply from the devices, such as calm days for a wind turbine. Typically, this is taken care of via a bank of batteries which can both store extra energy on days when there is a surplus, or provide a backup on slack days.
However, a battery system is high on maintenance, and can be a messy business. It will also wear down over time and need replacing. It does seem that more advanced batteries are on the horizon, but we’ll have to see how they pan out.
As you can see from Figure 1, the main components of a standalone system are:
- Batteries and charge regulator: connected to the generation devices, the batteries are responsible for storing electricity, and supplying current as required. The charge regulators prevent the batteries from being overcharged, and dump excess current.
- Low voltage disconnects: these prevent too low a current being supplied from the batteries as they discharge.
- Inverter: converts DC current into AC for supply to 240V appliances.
- Distribution box: distribution of current including fuses and circuit breaker.
Obviously, there is more to such a system than simply the renewable devices themselves, and this should be taken into consideration. If you are fortunate enough to have a source of running water on your property, you could consider hydro-electricity. These systems have the advantage of being a fairly consistent flow, especially with a small reservoir (such as an old mill pond). Batteries for such an installation becomes much less of an issue if the flow is sufficiently consistent.
THE GRID-CONNECTED SYSTEM
A grid-connected system utilises the grid instead of a battery bank for surpluses and shortfalls; buying or selling electricity from and to the grid as needs be. But let’s clear up a myth here straight away – if the grid goes down, so does your electricity. Just because you have a grid-connected device such as a wind turbine, it doesn’t make you immune to blackouts. Whenever the network operator needs to take down an area of the grid, they will shut down all devices inputting to the grid. This is to make that area safe for engineers.
Permission must be gained from the grid supplier for the connection of any new devices to the grid, and there are certain technical requirements as well as a meter and contract.
- Permission from your local Distribution Network Operator (DNO). This involves making sure that you have a properly approved invertor which will shut off on demand.
- Buy-back agreement: An agreement must be reached with a power supplier as to how power will be supplied and bought back, specifically at what price. Not all power companies do them for small devices (i.e. less than 50kW). Good Energy is one company that will consider smaller appliances.
- Two-way meter: a meter needs to be fitted which measures electricity into and out of the property. (Note that this will depend on how you are planning to sell the electricity generated.)
As you can see from Figure 2, the grid-connected system is simplified. Elements such as the inverter and distribution box are still present, but without the necessity of a battery bank and all it entails. Also, there is no need to depart from the security of the grid if your devices should break down or be in need of maintenance, for example. With a battery-powered system, you are entirely dependent on the storage capacity of the batteries.
Types of device
The choice of renewable energy devices for a householder has exploded in the last few years. They now include the following:
- wind turbine
- solar electricity (photovoltaic/PV)
- hydro electricity
- combined heat & power (CHP).
Not so long ago, wind turbines were impossible to install near residences, let alone attached to them. Now there are a range of devices running up to 1.5kW which can be installed for a reasonable price on a residential property, and increasingly planning departments are looking favourably upon such installations. Turbines in the UK suitable for installation on a property include the Eclectic Stealthgen, Renewable Devices’ Swift and Windsave’s WS1000. (It should also be borne in mind, however, that although Britain has the largest wind reserves in Europe, there will still be areas where there is insufficient wind to support a turbine, regardless of size.)
There is, unfortunately, a strong element of NIMBYism (Not In My Back Yard) in the UK, fuelled by ignorance. Bizarre but common objections include that turbines distract drivers, panic horses, kill birds, damage the environment and cause epileptic fits! Denmark has half the world market share of wind turbines. Why their streets aren’t full of wrecked cars, dead birds and people having fits is a mystery. This knee-jerk reaction is likely to be the largest obstacle to erecting a turbine on your home.
Reasonable objections in the past have included noise and vibration, but with the advent of ultra-quiet turbines, these objections on the grounds of noise can be safely overturned. Nowadays, the noise of such an urban turbine is likely to be drowned out by the sound of rustling leaves from a nearby tree.
This doesn’t mean that your neighbours’ objections to any planned activity can be ignored. In fact, objections should be carefully documented and responded to. However, you should be aware that in addition to quite reasonable objections, you are also likely to be greeted by a parade of paranoid fantasies!
SOLAR ELECTRICITY (PHOTOVOLTAIC/PV)
Electric solar panels, otherwise known as photovoltaic (PV) panels, are iconic. As a clean, quiet source of electricity, they seem to safely avoid the wrath that turbines attract. They require no planning permission to speak of, and can be hooked into domestic electricity the same as any other renewable device.
So why don’t we see more PV panels? It really comes down to their expense and inefficiency. As we’ll see shortly, when considering a renewable device the cost per kW provided needs to be examined. PV panels can easily cost twice that of a turbine. The other issue in the UK is, of course, the lack of sunshine! Although this isn’t necessarily an issue with an efficient device (such as solar hot water), it can produce disappointing results with PV panels.
In places such as California, where the sun is constant and the electricity expensive, it can make good sense to have a PV system rather than a turbine. However, in the UK, which has tremendous wind reserves across most of the country, electricity from turbines will always be cheaper kW for kW. Having said this, PV panels are highly funded, to the tune of £2,000 per kWp (kilowatt peak). See ‘Grants available’ on page 48 for further details.
Of course, solar electricity is easier to maintain as it has no moving parts. Larger turbines need to have the bearings greased each year, for example. Not so with a solar panel. So although solar electricity may not be a first choice, it should certainly not be ruled out for home installation. A common solution is to use a turbine as the primary device, then PV panels as a backup.
Hydro electricity is as near perfect as you can get for renewable energy, provided you have plenty of land and a flow of water across it. Unfortunately, that rules most of us out. If you are lucky enough to be in this position, then do capitalise on it. It hasn’t been investigated in the UK in any great depth, and the outlay for such a system can be substantial, but it is likely to provide all your electricity with spare to sell. Like wind turbines it requires planning permission, but attracts little or no prejudice.
It is difficult to provide specific advice here regarding the installation of such a system, as each one will be different. There are some companies specialising in this type of device and the internet is the best place to seek them out. Hydro has the advantage of a smooth, predictable supply of electric providing the flow of water keeps up, and by building a reservoir, no matter how small, this regularity can be enhanced. This was the principle of the mill pond.
However, the closest any of us is likely to get to such a system is in a community project.
COMBINED HEAT AND POWER (CHP)
Combined Heat and Power is essentially a boiler and an electricity generator rolled into one. And although it sounds like a magic bullet for home heat and energy generation, it is more like a pipe dream at the moment. The technology is still far too immature for domestic installation and is mainly found in industry, if at all.
One of the biggest drawbacks is that the few units which have been on offer for domestic users run on gas. This is obviously not carbon neutral, and really just gives home users the option of running their own mini-power station. Ideally, of course, the fuel would be wood, or some other carbon neutral alternative. Unfortunately, this option is still a long way off.
This is a hangover from their industrial origins, and they are often to be found powering factories and the like.
Research has been moving forward in this area, and one such offering in recent years has been the Whispergen from Powergen. These are reputed to be much quieter (hence the name) and are especially designed for the domestic consumer. As at the time of writing, however, the Whispergen was not on the market, although information can be found on www.powergen.co.uk
Another drawback of such units is that often they offer heat and electricity at the same time, not separately. This could be tremendously wasteful. Who wants heat during the summer? When you consider the issue of depletion, any new appliances using gas really are redundant. Of course, CHP units fuelled by wood or biomass may be just around the corner, but at present if you want to install a CHP unit in your home, the pickings are rather slim.
The main bonus with generating electricity with a CHP unit is that the supply of energy provided is smooth and predictable. Wind turbines and solar panels are anything but, hence the need for battery backup or grid-connection.
Funding is currently being considered by the LCBP, even for CHP units which run on gas and other fossil fuels such as LNG, so if you have got your heart set on such a device it may be worth holding off for a few years to allow this area to develop and be recognised.
INSTALLING A SYSTEM
How do I go about getting one of these systems?
- 1.Make efficiency savings in your home (do not skip this).
- 2.Decide how much electricity (kWh) you’ll need.
- 3.Select system type (standalone or grid-connected).
- 4.Choose types of devices (e.g. solar panel, hydro electric, etc.).
- 5.Select your makes and models.
- Calculate kWh provided by chosen devices compared to total from step 2.
- Will this appliance attract a grant?
- Get quotes for purchase and installation.
- 6.Engage an electrician.
- 7.Make legal agreements.
- Permission for grid connection with the DNO.
- Buy-back agreement with power company.
- 8.Apply for planning permission.
- 9.Apply for grants.
- 10.Install your system.
This whole list probably looks quite daunting at first glance, but as a friend of mine used to say, ‘Nothing at all in the world is complicated, it’s just a lot of simple things added together.’ And he was right. Each of these steps is pretty straightforward. Even applying for planning permission can itself be broken down into a number of simple steps. So let’s look at each step in detail.
1. Make efficiency savings in your home
For how to make your home more efficient, see ‘Outputs’, later in this section. This step should not be skipped! It can make a huge difference to how much you will have to pay out for devices. The homes at the Hockerton Housing Project, for example, use only half the amount of electricity of the average home. This means they only need devices to generate half the power. And when devices cost in the thousands, this is something you’re going to want to do!
The LCBP will not consider an application for a grant if the home involved does not have efficiency measures already implemented. The LCBP website states:
‘You must undertake a number of energy efficiency measures before you are eligible to apply for a low carbon buildings grant. These measures will ensure that you are minimising your energy requirements. Before applying we require you to have:
- a.insulated the whole of the loft of the property to meet current building regulations e.g. 270mm of mineral wool loft insulation or suitable alternative
- b.installed cavity wall insulation (if you have cavity walls)
- c.fitted low energy light bulbs in all appropriate light fittings
- d.installed basic controls for your heating system to include a room thermostat and a programmer or timer.’
So even if you’re not bothered about being efficient, any grant you are applying for is dependent on these measures being taken.
A good device you may want to invest in is the Plug-In Mains Power & Energy Monitor. Not only does it tell you the current drawn by a device, but you can leave it plugged in to get the total kWh used over a month or so. Extremely useful if you’re not sure of a device’s exact load. These are available from several outlets for £15 or less at the time of writing. Also very useful in the next step...
2. Decide how much electricity (kWh) you’ll need
Ok, so how much? Well, the average home in the UK uses about 2.5kW. This is highest in the evening, and lowest at night. The simplest way to measure how much you’re going to need is to look at your current bill. This should tell you how many kWh (one kW for one hour) you use on a regular basis.
You might see a line like this:
In this example, you have used 99 kWh for this type of electricity, at 3.199p per kWh. Add up the number of kWh you have used, and divide it by the number of days for the period covered by your bill, to get the average kWh used per day. You can multiply this by 365 to get the number of kWh you will use in a year. If you haven’t implemented efficiency measures yet, make these and then re-examine your bill.
If you don’t have a bill to examine, for example if you are moving into a new property, then you’ll need to go around the whole property and look at each device in turn, measure its rating and multiply this by the number of hours it will be in use each day (on average). Not all systems will be rated, such as the pump for your central heating system for example, but try to be as accurate as possible. (The Plug-In Energy Monitor might come in handy again here.)
Also, if you are buying a new house, the newly-launched Home Information Packs (HIPs) should be helpful. Each one has to include an Energy Performance Certificate. This will give the property an Energy Efficiency Rating from A–G (A is the most, and G the least, efficient). Incidentally, it also includes the property’s Environmental Impact Rating from A–G as well, in terms of carbon dioxide emissions.
Remember that although you may be using far more than 2.5kW at any point in time (just the vacuum cleaner might be 2kW, for example), you are looking at an average spaced out over a year. The spacing out is done either by batteries (for a standalone system) or by the national grid (for a grid-connected system), enabling you to draw extra current when needed or save it for later if not.
The figure you want to have in front of you by the end of this step is a number of kWh per year. If at all possible, have some leeway built in, especially if you are going to be relying on a battery bank. Of course, if you are grid-connected, then you don’t initially need to worry about replacing your whole energy requirement, you can draw some from devices and continue to draw the rest from the grid.
3. Select system type
Standalone (with battery backup) or grid-connected? This will depend on your circumstances and will determine how the rest of the system is laid out. You may have to revisit this step when it comes to costing.
4. Choose types of devices
You’ve probably already made this decision, or at least have a good idea. You may have your heart set on a wind turbine, or solar panels. These two are your most likely choice for homes in the UK, a combination of the two helping smooth the input over the year.
You also want to be quite clear at this stage where the devices are going to be installed. For example, if you are looking at PV panels, then look at your roof and consider how close to south-facing it is. This can affect your funding as well as the amount of electricity you will draw in. When considering a wind turbine, think if it is going to be mounted on the side of your house (for semi or detached), or be free standing. How easy will it be to get to for maintenance or repair?
To get the full installation requirements it is a good idea to contact a potential manufacturer or fitter.
5. Select your makes and models
At this stage, you really are ready to look around at specific wind turbines, solar panels, etc. The main issues here are power and price.
Checking the price
It’s unlikely you need me to tell you to check the price of these units first, but when it comes to buying electrical generation devices, the price you want to look at is price per kW. This is similar to looking at two brands of cereal, for example, and comparing the price per kilo. Sadly, most companies don’t advertise the price, only their devices, so you’ll have to ring up directly and ask for a quote. Quite surprisingly, companies selling renewable energy devices seem to be quite relaxed about their sales. Often, they will take their device off the market for twelve months at a time for various reasons. An e-mail or phone enquiry can take weeks to yield results, so be prepared to take some time and to have to chase up enquiries. At this stage, an estimate is enough to get you started.
Checking the power
Is there going to be enough power to cover the usage of your property? This is a tricky question, and one you may only be able to estimate. Wind and solar are rated at a standard amount of input – for example wind turbines are rated at a number of kW generated when the wind speed is 12 metres per second, whereas the wind speed will vary throughout the year. Solar panels are rated in kWp (kilowatt peak). This is the number of kilowatts generated when the solar panel is at its peak amount of sunshine.
Wind turbines often return from 1,000-2,000 hours per year at their rated power. So a 0.5kW turbine is likely to give you from 500-1,000 kWh per year. For a good estimate of what wind speeds you can expect in your area, visit:
This includes useful information for calculating your average wind speed. But also use your common sense. If your house or area is very sheltered, then don’t expect high wind speeds regardless of what is indicated by the wind speed database. Ideally, contact someone nearby who already has a similar device fitted and ask how much electricity they get in a year.
Devices eligible for a grant
The next thing to consider when selecting a specific brand of renewable device is, if it is on the approved list of appliances for a grant. Do not assume that just because you are buying a solar panel, for example, it is funded. The LCBP only approves a grant for specific appliances. The full list is available at: http://www.clear-skies.org/households/RecognisedProducts.aspx
Factors to consider
To begin selecting the appropriate make and model of device, make a list of each of the companies, and each of their devices, in a grid. Use the following columns for comparison:
- 2.Device name
- 3.Power rating
- 4.Price for device (inc. VAT)
- 5.Price for installation, including all wiring devices (inc. VAT)
- 6.Funding which can be recouped from grants
- 7.Total cost per kW
- 8.Date last contacted.
Remember that a small turbine’s minimum speed should be between 2.5 – 5m/s before it starts generating electricity. This is because at low kW ratings, you need to take full advantage of the range of wind speeds available, especially for a rooftop device.
You may also want to ask about annual maintenance. In most cases this is negligible for small turbines. But for those rated 5kW+, it may be necessary to grease the bearings once a year. This will mean the turbine has to be taken down somehow. Getting a quote for this annual event may save you much aggravation further down the line.
All other things being equal, the company you are looking for is the one with the lowest cost per kW. This should include all costs, including installation.
In each case, the installation process will be different. Some companies offer you the device and nothing more, others will insist on doing the full installation themselves. In each case, you need a total cost for the device, including installation, then divide it by the power rating to get the cost per kW. You may need to go to an electrician for a quote for the installation, if this isn’t covered by the company selling the renewable energy device.
Also, bear in mind that if you are looking at a combination of devices, such as wind turbine and solar panels, their installation together must be harmonious. If you have two companies, who both insist on installing the full system, there could be problems, and you might end up paying for two lots of installation!
Another snag here to be careful of is that to qualify for a grant, not only must the appliance be approved, but also the installer. Having said this, it’s not too difficult to get an approved installer, but check ‘Useful Information’ to make sure they are on the list.
It can’t have escaped many people’s notice that rooftop turbines have received something of a battering in the press. One suggestion is that the turbines are performing significantly less successfully than the manufacturers claim.
The gist of the argument seems to be that wind turbines need to be clear of obstacles such as trees and rooftops to function at full capacity, and since home turbines are, by their very nature, close to buildings, they are unlikely to get their full yield.
No one seems to be contesting that there will be a reduction in performance the question is how much of a reduction. Sadly, there seem to be no hard figures coming from either side of the argument, just anonymously quoted consultants.
So until we can get some figures for micro-turbines on our rooftops, we’ll just have to take our chances. But when our turbine goes up, I’ll be glad to publish my monthly figures on the internet!
6. Engage an electrician
For this stage you will need the help of a qualified electrician. The company selling you the generation device may be willing to help out in this respect. The object of the exercise here, is to draw out on paper how the system will operate, a circuit diagram of sorts. At one end you should have your generation devices, and at the other, your household appliances. What you need to know is how the electricity is going to get from one end to the other.
It may also be necessary to revisit this step once you have decided on your devices, as some have an inverter or other device installed within the unit. Also, some companies installing generation devices will want to do this part themselves.
Typically a system will require the following wiring devices:
- renewable appliances (e.g. wind turbine)
- charge regulator (one for each appliance)
- battery bank
- low voltage disconnect
- fuse box and distribution
- renewable appliances
- fuse box and distribution
- two-way meter.
With the help of your electrician, a circuit diagram can be mapped out, and the items required can be selected. At this stage, a quote for the electrical installation can be obtained, including the cost for any items which will need to be bought. The electrician or company making the installation should be the ones selecting the items required (e.g. inverter).
It is essential that any appliances (especially the inverter) are G83/1 compliant. This is the regulation that governs whether an item can be connected to the grid or not (see next section).
7. Make legal agreements
Primarily, this step is for those who will be setting up a grid-connected system. Those running a standalone system can ignore this. There are a few flaming hoops to jump through here.
Your Distribution Network Operator (DNO) is responsible for running your area of the grid. A full list of DNOs can be found from the Energy Networks Association by visiting http://www.energynetworks.org or by calling 020 7706 5100.
You will need to get your DNO’s permission to connect any devices to the grid. Essentially this is covered by a document called the G83/1, which was drawn up as a recommendation by the Energy Networks Association. However, although it began life as a recommendation it is now mandatory to comply with this standard. Your DNO should explain what you need to know when you speak to them.
For a small domestic installation such as the home turbines we are discussing here, you simply need to fill in a form and let your DNO know what is going on. As long as all your equipment is G83/1 compliant, then nothing should be amiss. Ensuring that your equipment is compliant is something that your installer should take care of.
However, if you are planning to install a much bigger generator, such as a community turbine, then a formal application will need to be made, with full details of your proposal in partnership with your installer. The dividing line given by our area DNO when we enquired was anything up to 16 amps (for the technically aware), but obviously this should be checked out directly with your DNO upon application.
If you’re grid-connected you can sell back any excess electricity to the grid. When I first heard this I thought that as I would only be generating a small amount, there wouldn’t be any to sell back. But with renewable generation technologies, although your annual production may not exceed your usage, because the supply is irregular you’ll often have an excess at odd times. Wind turbines produce a lot of energy at night, for example, but most of your requirement will be during the day or evening.
Selling excess electricity can only be done through your power company. Unfortunately, many power companies are not interested in buying back small amounts of electricity, which to you and me is anything below a megawatt! So you might have to switch power company. A couple of companies which do enter into buy-back agreements with micro-generators such as you are Green Energy and Good Energy (see Useful Information – Green Power Companies). Physically, you’ll need to install a two-way meter, instead of the standard one-way meter, for billing. Again, this is something that your installer should take care of.
However, the number of different tariffs available seems to have exploded of late, and now some companies will pay you for every kWh generated, but at a lower rate. Like shopping around for retail electricity, you may want to try several tariffs before settling on the one which seems to pay the most.
Renewable Obligation Certificate
The Renewable Obligation was brought in to ensure that power generators produce a minimum percentage of their electricity from renewable sources. Each generator of renewable electricity gets a Renewable Obligations Certificate (ROC) per MWh per year to show this. These are issued by Ofgem. So what?
Well, if a generator hasn’t got enough ROCs to cover their obligation, then they have to pay into a fund which is then divided up between those who have got ROCs. A micro-turbine (for example) is worth about one ROC. At the time of writing, one ROC was worth about £60. So, basically, you can get paid to produce green electricity. However, there is a certain amount of red tape before you get paid. To find out exactly what steps to take, you need to contact Ofgem (www.ofgem.gov.uk).
8. Apply for planning permission
After wading through items one to seven above, it will come as unwelcome news that this may be your biggest step! It is not unusual to have to resubmit planning applications, and make appeals to get a wind turbine approved, even one as small as a rooftop domestic turbine. Solar panels and CHP units usually do not require planning permission, and hydro-electric generators are unique. For this section then, it is assumed we are applying for planning permission for a wind turbine. For other systems, skip to the next step.
In order to apply for planning permission for anything, a detailed plan must be included. The most suitable for a wind turbine is an elevation. When preparing plans for submission, ensure that they are drawn exactly as specified by your guidance notes. This includes using the correct materials, scale and units, and may vary between councils.
If you phone up an architect for a quote for this you will probably get a price of around £1,000. If this was the only option, it would double the cost for a Windsave turbine! It seems pedantic to ask for a diagram of a wind turbine installation when no permission is required for a satellite dish, but the law is the law. Fortunately, there are other options. The first is to look in the small ads of your local paper for a plan drawer. These are folks who will simply measure up and draw you a diagram cheaply, probably for a few hundred pounds. The other option is to draw it yourself.
Doing it yourself
When I first began this, I was lucky enough to speak to a very friendly architect. When I explained the situation, he suggested I draw the diagram myself. ‘But how can I measure the height of my house without surveying equipment? Or my roof?’ I asked. He responded by saying that the best way to get measurements suitable for such a diagram is to count bricks. Get yourself a sheet of graph paper and go for a scale of 1cm to 1m. Then go outside and measure the length of 5 bricks and the height of 10 bricks. By counting the number of bricks along each height and length of your house, you should then be able to calculate the dimensions for your diagram.
If you have any awkward measurements, such as a sloping roof, you will need to get a good distance away, and possibly gain height, and take a photo of your property. You may have to ask a neighbour across the road if you can take a photo from their upstairs window!
Once the photo is developed, you can measure your dimensions with a ruler. If you have a dimension you already know (from counting and measuring bricks), you can measure this on the photo with a ruler. The photo then becomes your scale diagram. If the width of your house is 5m and on the photo it is 5cm, then you can measure other lines which are unknown and calculate their lengths.
The next stage in this process is to add a scale image of your proposed turbine to the scale diagram of your house, where it will be sited. It may be on a pole up the side of your house, or on a bracket mounting. You will need to get exact dimensions of the various parts of the turbine, so that you can give the planning officers an idea of how the turbine will look, and how it will impact on your neighbours and the surrounding area.
Ideally, you will be provided with such a diagram, to the scale of 1:100, by your turbine suppliers, which you can then trace directly onto your diagram. If this has not been supplied in advance, then you will need to contact your turbine supplier and ask for it. As this is a new industry, the companies involved are still finding their feet, so you may have to be patient.
As I write this Windsave, for example, are still in the process of producing a pack especially to assist with applying for planning permission. Presumably, this will include a scale diagram of their turbine which can be easily copied onto the diagram of your house. They are also a month or two off producing an independent report on the noise produced by their WS1000, which will be essential in persuading neighbours and planning officers alike that this is a device suitable for a domestic rooftop.
Filling out the form
Once you’ve actually got the plans sorted, you’ve done the hardest part. Just make sure that you tick all the boxes. It’s not that complicated, just a little time-consuming. Our council, for example, asks for the following:
- ordnance survey plan of the site (four copies)
- the elevation diagram (four copies)
- the completed application form (four copies).
The important thing to remember when applying for a wind turbine is to provide plenty of supporting material. Ideally this should be:
- examples of other approvals for this make and model of turbine;
- information about the turbine, including the independent noise and vibration survey;
- what you’ve done to consult your neighbours, what objections they’ve raised, and how you plan to resolve those objections.
Essentially, you need to show that you recognise that there are issues surrounding turbines, but the turbine you want to put in is well suited to your property, and you’ve done everything you can to keep your neighbours happy. Which brings us on to the next section...
Consulting the neighbours
If you have not already done so, at this stage you should consult your neighbours. In this context, your neighbours are anyone who may object to the planning permission. And while this step is not a requirement of the planning permission process, there are a number of reasons to do this.
Firstly, you should be aware that your planning application is a public document, so there is no way you can slip this development past your neighbours!
Secondly, as with anything new, they are bound to have concerns and reservations. It is far better to handle them sitting in the living room over a cup of tea, than through objections and appeals in the planning process. Each objection should be examined carefully. Although many objections may be spurious, this doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t be considered. Your neighbours may have perfectly legitimate objections to raise, which can be taken into account at the initial stage.
Noise and vibration
Noise is of major concern to most people. It is essential to have the full statistics about your turbine on hand when handling your neighbours’ objections. The planning authority works on the ‘worst case scenario’. For a wind turbine, this is a quiet summer night, when your closest neighbours have the window open, and there is just enough wind to turn the turbine. Any turbine manufacturer worth their salt should have an independent noise and vibration report which you can get with a few persistent phonecalls.
The official ruling on what is allowed for a turbine is contained in a very large and complex set of documents published by the DTI. Together they form a publication called ‘The assessment and rating of noise from wind farms’ (URN No: 96/1192). If you’re really brave, you can download it from here: http://www.dti.gov.uk/energy/sources/renewables/publications/page21743.html
But rather than wade through this publication, you’re far better off getting your turbine company to establish credibility on your behalf – hence the independent noise and vibration report.
Other objections which are of equal priority, but much harder to gauge, are the effect on TV reception, and the visual impact. Of course, you can’t handle every objection, but if you can go some way to showing that you’ve taken your neighbours’ feelings into account, you will have built a strong case for approval.
9. Apply for grants
We will assume for the purposes of this section, that you are applying for a grant from the LCBP here. In all likelihood, they’re the best people to go to as they specialise in funding for renewable projects. The process to go through to satisfy the funders are:
- 1.Take basic energy saving steps (see 1 above).
- 2.Get a quote from an approved installer for an approved appliance.
- 3.Fill in the application form.
- 4.After the work is complete, fill in an ‘installer completion certificate’.
You can either fill in an application online at the LCBP website or you can download the form and post it.
To get to the online form go to http://www.lowcarbonbuildings.org.uk then click on ‘How to apply’, and follow the links. If the funds for the current month have already run out, you can get to the link for the application form here: http://www.lowcarbonbuildings.org.uk/lcbp/application/applicationForm 1Public.action
Sadly, only £12.7 million has been allocated for householders for the LCBP, capped at £0.5 million per month, so the message isn’t getting through. Whether the scheme will be extended or not remains to be seen. Considering the EU’s goals of cutting carbon emissions by 20 per cent by every member state by 2020, a lot more than this small sum is going to be required. Although by 2020, fossil fuel depletion may well have forced this reduction on us.
10. Install your system
Finally, you are now ready to have your system installed. Good luck!
BUYING GREEN ELECTRICITY
There will be plenty of situations where you need to buy electricity from the grid. Even if you do generate your own electricity, it may not cover all your needs. So most of us, at some time or another, are going to need to buy electricity. But how can we buy carbon neutral electricity?
Many power companies around these days offer a green tariff. But what is a green tariff? And just how green is it?
To persuade us that the energy being offered is green, power companies offer one of the following three options:
- green source
- green fund
- carbon offset.
The first, and best option is to offer electricity from renewable sources. This way you can be sure that the electricity you use is carbon neutral:
‘For every unit of electricity you use, a supplier guarantees to buy a percentage of electricity (from 10 per cent to 100 per cent) from a renewable generator which uses wind, small hydro-electric, biomass, tidal and wave power, geothermal and/or solar.’ (www.energywatch.org.uk/help_and_advice/green_tariffs/tariff_types.asp)
Note that even then, you do need to check what percentage of the electricity you use is from a green source, as it will need to be 100 per cent to be truly carbon neutral. Having said that, even 10 per cent is better than 0 per cent!
To be absolutely sure that your electricity is carbon neutral, you can always switch to a green power company such as Ecotricity, Good Energy or Green Energy (see Useful Information – Green Power Companies). Bear in mind however, that you will have to pay a premium for this electricity.
There are two main types of green fund:
- 1.New renewables; which are designed to support the construction of new renewable generation sources such as wind farms, solar power and so on.
- 2.Other environmental; which are designed to support environmental causes or new research and development projects.
The point to note here is that the electricity you are buying is not carbon neutral. Although these funds may be a worthy cause, and may in future lead to more wind turbines, they do not in themselves reduce global warming. Since you will be paying a premium for these funds, why not either donate the money to a charity such as Friends of the Earth, or even use it to save up for a wind turbine? This would be just as positive a difference, and you would know yourself where your money ended up.
This is probably the least defensible ‘green’ tariff. The idea is that the supplier makes a donation to a carbon reduction project – either in the UK or abroad. In a similar vein to a green fund, your electricity is still not carbon neutral. This practice of ‘offsetting’ is especially dangerous because it encourages people to think that it is actually carbon neutral, when it isn’t. Any number of forests are not going to offset the effects of burning fossil fuels, especially coal.
This modern trend is basically greenwash: The Energy Saving Trust says it is ‘...the potential gap between agreeing in public with the consensus, and not attempting to do anything about it.’
The same applies here as applies to the ‘green fund’ above. Why not put your money to use elsewhere?
WIND TURBINE COMMUNITY SCHEMES
Getting a turbine for your home and generating your own electricity is all well and good, but there are a number of situations where it simply isn’t going to be practical. Whether you rent a property, you’re in a conservation area, or the property just isn’t suitable; whatever the reason, it’s not always possible to install a device where you live.
Using a grid connection means that a turbine can be connected just about anywhere. Electricity can then be sold to the grid at the wholesale price, and bought back at retail in the same way as if the turbine was on your roof. Having the device actually at your own home can become a non-issue. And once you widen the location for a turbine, you automatically increase its possible size. This has a further advantage. Remember that when we were discussing choosing a make and model, we looked at the cost per kW capacity as being the guideline for making our selection. Well it turns out that as turbines increase in size, the cost per kW drops dramatically. The most cost-effective way to set up a wind turbine is to set up a large turbine project and have a number of stake-holders, each taking a share of the electricity produced. In this way, each person only puts in a small amount, but reaps the cost-effectiveness of owning a large, efficient turbine.
Community groups already out there
The term ‘community’ wind turbine can be confusing. It can mean a group of people in a local area who all wish to share a turbine for generating electricity, each putting in a certain investment to the scheme. However, investors can be anywhere in the country and don’t need to share the same geographic area. Often, when a turbine share offer is extended to outside the area where the turbine is situated, preference is given for those living closest.
In the UK, there are very few community-owned turbines. Most are owned exclusively by a single company. There are exceptions, however. Baywind, for example, has set up a number of turbines which are owned by groups of people. These are owned and operated as a commercial project, and pay dividends to their members. Find out more via the website www.baywind.co.uk
Staying the distance
But as the size of the project increases, so does the organisational load. Be warned. Setting up a community owned turbine is a very time-consuming task, and is not to be taken lightly. If you want a quick and easy solution to your electricity supply, this is not the way to go. Having said this, a large project such as a community turbine can have tremendous benefits, but you must be prepared to go the whole distance.
Setting up and running a community turbine project could be the subject for a book on its own, so what follows is nothing more than an overview of this relatively new area.
Type of company
The first task is to create a legal vessel for the idea. There are a number of different types of company which will fulfil this role. The main types are:
- Private Limited Company
- Company Limited by Guarantee
Private Limited Company
The first choice is a Private Limited Company. These are owned by a number of shareholders, who each pay money for shares and receive dividends each year for each share they hold. Shares also limit the liability of a company, in that it cannot lose more money than is put in. If you invest for example, £500 in a company, and it owes millions, you cannot have your house seized to pay the company’s debts – you can only lose the £500 that was invested in the first place. An accountant can set up a limited company for around £250.
Company Limited by Guarantee
A Company Limited by Guarantee has no shares, and does not declare dividends, but is still limited to a small amount. This might be as small as £1. A good example here is a charity. If you were trying to set up a turbine which would benefit your village hall or school, this might be the way to go. Although the turbine company wouldn’t be able to pay out any profits, it would be able to run the turbine effectively, which could then provide free electricity to a beneficiary, such as the village hall or school. The charges made by accountants vary, but setting up these two different company types shouldn’t have radically different costs.
The third type of organisation which might be suitable is a cooperative. A good example here is Baywind, which owns and operates wind turbines to the benefit of its members. However, cooperatives are a special type of organisation and, typically, would not pay out a dividend. An example of a cooperative might be a working man’s club, where the members benefit by having an economical social club run at cost. But no profits would normally be paid out. It can be quite expensive to set up a cooperative (one estimate ran at £750 – £1,500), and involves the cooperative being ratified and regularly audited. Cooperatives cannot be set up automatically; an application must be made to create one. This takes time, money and does not guarantee success. If you do want to go down this particular road, then you may want to consider purchasing a copy of Baywind’s legal articles, and using them as a model. This can be done through their spin-off company, www.energy4all.co.uk
It is worth mentioning Energy4All at this stage. It is a professional company which specialises in helping set up community cooperatives for the purpose of developing commercial wind farms. The advantage is that it has done this sort of work before and knows the pitfalls. So if you’re wary of setting up a turbine project without any experience, then it may be worth contacting Energy4All, to see if it can help you get started.
Get professional advice
This brief overview of the legal vehicles available is very simplified, and is not a substitute for consulting an accountant. Most accountants won’t charge for a consultation, only for the work that results from that consultation. So there is no reason not to go and talk to a professional.
Once you have set up your group as a legal entity, you can then apply for a bank account and grants. One of the nice things about a community project is that you qualify for all manner of assistance. You can apply for funding from hundreds of different sources (whole books have been written on this subject). Essentially, it is important to know exactly what you are applying for, what the money will be used for and that your group meets the funder’s requirements. So a good application might be for £5,000, for example, for legal fees from a carbon neutral trust.
The applications process has become more sophisticated over the years, and you must be prepared to state your case carefully in the application form. You will probably need a referee to argue on your behalf, and have evidence such as quotes for the work to be done. But do persist!
The only expense you are unlikely to gain funding for is the initial setup with the accountant. Since you will only exist as a group of like-minded friends at this stage, funders will be reluctant to make you an award due to the high risk of fraud. But for everything else you have an open field – if you don’t ask, you don’t get!
Low Carbon Buildings Programme
The grant from the Low Carbon Buildings Programme has now been expanded to include businesses. The LCBP explains on its website (www.lowcarbonbuildings.org.uk).
‘The stream 2 fund is comprised of two categories:
- Stream 2A – to be allocated over seven funding rounds (and one reserve round) Maximum grant of £100k or 40–50 per cent of total costs (excl. VAT). There will be quarterly deadlines for stream 2A applications. Apply now by completing a pre-registration form.
- Stream 2B – to be allocated over three funding rounds (and one reserve round) Maximum grant of £1m or 40-50 per cent of total costs (excl. VAT). Deadlines for applications will be twice a year. Apply now for a building assessment form by pre-registering.’
It seems incredible, but profit-making businesses are now allowed to apply for up to 50 per cent of a scheme, which is only capped at £1m. So set your sights high!
Although grants can provide a welcome lifeline for a turbine project, often you’ll want to involve others as investors either to make the purchase more secure, or to widen the range of turbines you can afford.
There are a number of ways that finance can be raised (this list is by no means exhaustive).
For a project which is going to benefit the whole community, such as a turbine for the school, this approach can be very successful. However, it is important to know who will be the beneficiaries in any project, and this will be of keen interest to anyone donating to such a fund. Often this is suitable for raising smaller sums such as the initial accountant’s bill.
Like members of a cooperative, investors can pay a membership and they will then be eligible to receive dividends once the turbine is fully operational. It is important here to consider who your investors are likely to be, and what their interests will be. A simple business plan showing the projected income and expenditure of the business in its first and subsequent years can go a long way to answering initial queries.
Taking out a loan against your turbine is a serious step to take. And because it is a ‘fringe’ business, it may be problematic securing finance in this manner. Banks will want assurances, and will likely want the loan to be secured against an asset, so this isn’t something to take lightly. The important questions here are why a loan needs to be taken out, and how that loan will be repaid.
According to Energy4All (www.energy4all.co.uk):
‘If the project is attractive a bank will lend up to 80 per cent of the project costs, subject to due diligence and a charge over the assets.’
If the majority of the funding for a project is to come from commercial borrowing, then a projected cash flow analysis – what goes in, and what comes out – is essential. This is to ensure that the costs of the business will be met, and that any loans can be serviced.
Settling on a location
Once you have an organisation and potential funding, you can now go about the process of setting up your turbine. The first issue is the site. Where you plan to put the turbine will depend very much on the emphasis of your group. Of course, there is nothing to stop your London group siting its turbine in Galway. But it might become difficult to discuss matters with local land owners, or objectors, for example. A good place to start is with local land owners with lots of windy land. Obviously, you do need to be tactful when discussing the matter, but you may be surprised to find your proposal very well received. After all, a turbine takes very little from the land, and can provide a strong profit incentive.
Is there a farm nearby with mains electricity, where the turbine can be hooked into? To get a quote for grid connection for a location you need to contact your local DNO (See Useful Information). When speaking to ours, the range quoted was from £5,000 to £50,000. Also look at ease of access from the road for plant vehicles. Remember, this thing is going to need foundations and to be hoisted into place with a crane!
Energy4All’s website says:
‘You will need to calculate the distance to the nearest grid connection point and assess the cost of this. To do this you will need to contact your Distribution Network Operator (DNO) or contact a consultant to do this on your behalf. To commission a system study will cost between £6 to 15k but a one off consultation may provide a good guide to start with on spare capacity on the line and any work that may be required to reinforce the lines.’
Obviously, the cost here will depend on the size of your project, but location with respect to wind yield and suitability for the grid is an important consideration.
Legal agreement with a land owner
Having found one or more sympathetic land owners, the next step is to make the agreement more formal by involving a solicitor. This is where you may wish to start applying for a grant, as obviously solicitors will charge for their services. However bureaucratic this step may seem, it is essential. There is no use in applying for planning permission on a local farmer’s land, and battling through all the protests, only to find that the farmer has signed an agreement with a commercial wind developer!
A further complication here is that this type of agreement is highly specialised. Unless you live in an area crowded with wind turbines, you are unlikely to find a solicitor who is experienced in these matters, and may have to look further afield.
Again, organisations such as the British Wind Energy Association (BWEA, http://www.bwea.com) or Energy4All may be able to supply you with a contact, if your local solicitors are unable to help.
Selecting your turbine
The same rules apply here as to buying a micro-turbine for your home, but on a much bigger scale. Again you are looking for the best price per kW, but now you can open up the field from 50kW anywhere up to perhaps 250kW and beyond. This gives you far greater flexibility in terms of make and model. However, you still need to remember that only certain turbines and certain installers attract funding, so be sure to check with the LCBP to ensure that the turbine you select will be fully funded. See Useful Information for more details on approved appliances and installers.
You don’t even need to stick to new turbines – you can also look at secondhand turbines. These can be had quite cheaply, with only a few years on the clock. Typically, this happens when a new wind farm has been set up with several small turbines to ensure the wind yield is present. They are then replaced with much larger turbines and the smaller devices are sold secondhand. The internet is the best place to look for second-hand turbines (but buyer beware!).
Finally, when you are buying a large-scale turbine, don’t lose sight of the fact that you are engaged in major engineering works. Even once the turbine is in place, it will still need to be maintained by qualified engineers. To find engineers suitable for this, contact the BWEA (British Wind Energy Association).
Wind surveys: do I need one?
This depends on your view of the site, and how you will raise finance for it. If you and your investors are willing to take the site at face value, then you don’t necessarily need a wind survey. If you do need one, it consists of installing an anemometer and recording the results. It can be a lot of money to raise for a project which hasn’t even got started yet, and the simple economics of the situation may rule this out completely. However, if you are able to gain funding, then this can be a very useful step to take. Obviously, the larger the turbine you are considering, the more sensible such a precaution becomes. If your project is going to cost half a million pounds, then spending £12,000 on a wind survey becomes a lot more prudent. Also, if you are looking at obtaining some of the money for the project from a funder, or even a bank, then a wind survey can help to establish credibility in the eyes of those providing the finance and show that the investment isn’t going to be wasted money.
Commercial wind developments will almost always commission a wind survey of at least one point on a potential wind farm site, even if it consists of a very small turbine (e.g. 5kW). Since such developments are wholly on a commercial footing, they also tend to insure themselves against low yields of wind. Wind insurance! This type of insurance will pay out in the case of a very low wind yield in a year, enabling repayments on a loan to be made. Before applying for insurance of this type, a wind survey is essential.
So the answer to whether you need a wind survey or not really depends on how much it matters if the wind blows or not. If the yield of your site was radically below your estimates, would it matter to your plans? If the answer to this is yes, then chances are you will need to get a wind survey.
Making your planning application
Like the home turbine process, this is perhaps the most arduous step of all. But in the case of a large turbine, instead of ensuring that the objections of your immediate neighbours are met, you need to deal with communities and organisations. As with a micro-turbine, if at all possible you should find out who your potential objectors are initially, and meet with them in a private setting to discuss your proposal informally. Considering the money and time that may go into obtaining planning permission for a community turbine, it is prudent to get informal approval from any potential objection group, before going to the official application stage.
People who apply for planning permission for a wind turbine tend to come against a local protest group at some point, and often there is a public debate involving the local commuinity.
These are the most common objections:
1. Radar interference
Surprisingly, one of the most common objectors to a large turbine development is the RAF. Interference with radar ranks highly on the list of objections and is very credible. This should be one of your first checkpoints. An inital approach would be to write to the RAF base involved, and outline your plans. This will save a lot of wasted time and effort further down the road.
2. Visual intrusion
This is a highly subjective, but perfectly valid objection. What does or does not constitute ‘unacceptable visual intrusion’ will depend on your council’s planning department. The only way to assess whether your development will fall foul of this objection is to contact your council.
As has already been discussed, a noise report for the turbine in question should be in your hand, and the hands of any potential objectors, before even beginning to fill out the application form.
4. Environmental damage
It seems incredible that a device for reducing directly global warming could be painted as an environmental hazard, but that is sometimes the case. To install a large wind turbine, a suitable area has to be dug out and filled with concrete to form the foundations, as well as suitable trenches for the cables to be laid. The larger the turbine, the more likely that the planning department is to insist on a full Environmental Impact Assessment by an independent third party, which can be extremely costly.
5. Conservation areas
Some areas will have protected status, and rightly so. It is important to take into account areas and buildings which have been designated as National Heritage sites, and conservation areas. Rather than fight such designations, it may be prudent to locate the turbine to another area. Obviously, this is going to depend very much on the circumstances of the application.
6. Transmitter interference
Other than the RAF there are a number of civil communications channels that may be affected by a wind turbine, in particular TV transmitters and mobile phone masts. The landscape is entwined with such masts (which often have their applications swiftly approved by central government!), and a large turbine may interfere with any one of them. If there are any such masts in the area, it would be wise to contact the owners at the earliest opportunity.
Of course there are any number of objections which may be voiced at the planning stage, but the ones represented so far are the most credible. Other objections which you may encounter along the way are that wind turbines:
- kill birds
- distract drivers
- frighten horses
- are a health hazard
- damage house prices
- damage tourism
- don’t produce much energy.
These are all myths, as outlined on www.dti.gov.uk in the section ‘Wind power: 10 myths explained’. If truth be told wind turbines are the best chance Britain has to produce long-term sustainable energy. These myths, and others like them, are often to be heard at public meetings and on radio debates.
Bringing it all together
When you look at all the obstacles facing a community wind turbine project, it’s small wonder that very few ever conclude successfully. But if you want to set up a turbine in your community, don’t be put off by all the nay-sayers. The more projects that are set up, the more turbines we are likely to see further down the road.
Assuming you have planning permission, the final step is installation. There may be issues surrounding finance here in the final stages. This is because grants from the Low Carbon Buildings Programme are only paid after a turbine is set up, but must be applied for before. This bureaucratic gap can sometimes cause a mini financial crisis, if you are not prepared for it. You may be able to talk to the suppliers and installers of the turbine for help in this respect, and offer them payment only when the grant cheque clears, as part of the contract. Any company that deals with turbines on a regular basis is likely to be familiar with the grant system, and may be understanding. Failing this, you can always get a short-term loan, or an overdraft, to cover this shortfall. But bear in mind that this will accumulate interest, even if for a short time, and without income from the turbine this can represent another item in the liabilities column of the balance sheet.
All that remains to be said now is ‘good luck!’.
What this section comes down to is: how can we cut our use of electricity? There are two routes here:
- by using efficient devices
- by using less energy.
Let’s look at each in turn.
USING EFFICIENT DEVICES
Low energy light bulbs
At the top of the list of efficient devices must be the low energy light bulb. In no other way can such a dramatic saving be made for as little as 95p. Really, high energy bulbs should be outlawed! Using high energy bulbs is just like driving a huge 4x4 when you don’t need to.
The savings on low energy bulbs are amazing. They consume one fifth of the energy, and last eight to ten times longer than conventional bulbs. If you hunt around, especially at local DIY stores, you can often pick them up for only a little more than a conventional bulb.
So make this number one on your list. You’d be crazy not to.
Big electrical appliances
Once you’ve added low energy bulbs to your home, the next items you should be looking at are the big appliances. Typically, the biggest energy hog in your house is going to be the fridge freezer. This is because it is on all the time.
Ideally, you would scrap your old fridge freezer immediately and rush out and buy an A++ rated model. This would save you £45 per year according to the Energy Saving Trust. However, you may want to look at new models now, but only replace the old one when it comes to the end of its life. If this is the case, then you could consider a Savaplug.
A Savaplug (www.savawatt.com) is a unique energy saving device which simply replaces the existing plug on your fridge freezer and saves you typically 20 per cent. The RRP is £24.99, so they are well worth investigating. However, they will not work with a number of makes and models, so make sure that yours is compatible. It is well worth a phone call to ensure this.
The other big energy hogs are the electric cooker, tumble dryer, washing machine and dishwasher. If you do really need one, each of these can be bought as an A+ model, and will naturally save you energy, and money.
USING LESS ENERGY
There are a thousand tips and tricks for using less electricity, so much so that cataloguing them all could be a book in itself. But here’s some of the most useful:
- Try to open the fridge freezer as little as possible. If you are cooking, for example, get all the ingredients out at once.
- Keep the condenser coils dust-free.
- Keep it well filled with items.
- Use lids on your saucepans so the heat doesn’t escape.
- When possible only use one hob. For example cook one-pot meals, or move pans between the hobs.
- Heat water for cooking in the kettle first – it’s more efficient.
- An electric hob stays hot long after they are turned off, so try turning it off (or down) a few minutes before the end of the cooking time.
- Completely cover the hob to use all the heat.
- Don’t open the oven until the food has finished cooking.
- Try washing on a lower temperature cycle.
- Wash only full loads.
- Try to use the tumble dryer as little as possible, and try the solar powered alternative – the clothes line!
A+ washers are great for this. They can be set for short cycles (some as little as 29 minutes!), lower temperatures, and even control the maximum spin speed.
All the rest
- If something’s not being used, unplug it at the wall – never mind leaving it on standby! To aid this, use an adapter with several sockets, and one switch.
- Have a shower instead of a bath, as it uses less energy and water. If you have carbon neutral heating, try a mixer shower which will use what’s in the tank first, then start using electricity.
- Try running appliances such as washers, dryers and dishwashers at night on cheap electricity. Is this carbon neutral? Well, wind turbines run at night.
- Electric lawn mowers are more efficient than petrol mowers. And of course push mowers are truly carbon neutral.
These are all common sense tips which can gradually lower your consumption. The tricky part is getting your whole family behind the idea.
It seems that every week there is some new development in this area of the carbon neutral movement, what with politicians putting up turbines to grab the headlines. The danger of writing a chapter like this is that it will probably be out of date by the time you’re reading it! The grants available were completely revised while it was being written, so check your sources.
One of the boldest moves has been by Edinburgh city council to allow turbines without planning permission. So if you live in Edinburgh, there’s no excuses!
Gradually the government is getting around to talking about global warming, but despite the rhetoric, very little seems to be happening. When you consider that only £18 million has been allotted for the householders stream of the LCBP, it gives you some idea of how little thought this is being given. To put it in perspective, to put an extra lane on the M1 is set to cost nearly £2 billion!
Despite the government’s general unwillingness to act, pressure is mounting for Britain to become more carbon neutral, and this should translate into it becoming gradually easier to get planning permission for turbines of all sizes.
Hopefully this chapter should have made things clearer, and although it can be a daunting process to go through, it is another step towards becoming carbon neutral.
The following grants are available from the Low Carbon Buildings Programme (LCBP) for householders. Although it may be possible to attract funding from other areas, e.g. lottery funding, the LCBP should be your first stop. See www.lowcarbon-buildings.org.uk/how/householders
Solar photovoltaics: Maximum of £2,000 per kW of installed capacity, subject to an overall maximum of £2,500 or 50 per cent of the relevant eligible costs, whichever is the lower.
Wind turbines: Maximum of £1,000 per kW of installed capacity, subject to an overall maximum of £2,500 or 30 per cent of the relevant eligible costs, whichever is the lower.
Small hydro: Maximum of £1,000 per kW of installed capacity, subject to an overall maximum of £2,500 or 30 per cent of the relevant eligible costs, whichever is the lower.
Businesses and SMEs (small and medium enterprises)
The stream 2 fund is comprised of two categories (see www.lowcarbonbuildings.org.uk/how/stream2):
- Stream 2A – to be allocated over seven funding rounds (and one reserve round). Maximum grant of £100k or 40-50 per cent of total costs (excl. VAT). There will be quarterly deadlines for stream 2A applications. Apply now by completing a pre-registration form.
- Stream 2B – to be allocated over three funding rounds (and one reserve round). Maximum grant of £1m or 40-50 per cent of total costs (excl. VAT). Deadlines for applications will be twice a year. Apply now for a building assessment form by pre-registering.