I have some questions regarding solar heating / power / wind power and
UK grants. I'm interested in experiences rather than straight facts as
many of these are on the internet:
(1) We're considering ploughing some money into some a renewable power
source for our home. I knew of government grants, but I also recall
reading recently that the grants were either being cancelled or cut
back substantially. Has anyone taken advantage of such a grant
recently? Does the installation company sort it all out or does the
consumer have to claim it back themselves?
(2) Of the various options available (I can think of at least three)
has anyone any experience across each type? Are some more effective
than others in terms of energy return for a UK home? Are some more
problematic regards installation?
(3) Installation companies are many, I know that BP have a solar
business and will more than likely have a list of contractors on their
books. I would feel a little safer dealing with a large organisation
but I don't expect they will be as cheap as others. Again if anyone
has any experience I would appreciate this.
All I can say is that IMHO the consensus among those here that can count
beyond ten without taking their socks off, is that none of them will
ever realistically pay for themselves in this country. Even WITH a grant.
Since I can see no significant cost savings in using any technology
based on (domestic) wind or solar in this country, I haven't even
bothered to see who is painting themselves green by selling it.
It really doesn't matter who you buy it from. Or if it works or not. Its
money down the drain. Just a sop to your conscience. And a show off to
On Mon, 7 Jan 2008 14:18:20 -0800 (PST), email@example.com
The Nat Ural Phil Horse Offer has covered the basics.
I'd just like to go on to say that IMHE of these grant aided schemes
the sole Benny Fishery of the grant money in every case has been the
contractors doing the installation. The stable market cost of the
project that the market will bear just gets inflated by the
contribution from the grant.
Maybe depends how much alteration has to be done to the heating system.
The heat they produce is "low grade" suitable for underfloor heating but
not for, AIUI, heating domestic hot water or conventional, radiator based
The Natural Philosopher is an accountant; the *only* thing that matters is
the bottom line. Whilst that is a factor it is not the overiding one for
Grants can help the costs but generally you are then tied to using
"approved" installers and systems. You don't get much, if any, flexabilty
to design a system to suit your requirements, property or have a
combination of energy sources. Personally I don't like being told which
contractors I can use, particulary when I'm not in control of the project.
But before you do *any* of this; insulation, insulation, insulation. Treble
glaze. Line the walls. 1000mm (I made this figure up) of insulation in the loft.
Heat recovery ventilation. Insulate the hot water pipes.
On Mon, 7 Jan 2008 14:18:20 -0800 (PST) someone who may be
One of the facts that can be found on Internet is that there are no
UK grants for such things in the domestic sphere. If you tell us
which country/province/principality you live in then we may be able
to help you more.
Before doing that make sure you have done as much as reasonable to
reduce energy losses. Lagging hot water pipes, loft and wall
insulation, energy saving lamps, no fancy lighting schemes designed
to make your meter spin round like a catherine wheel and so on.
The ones in England were still in a mess the last time I checked,
which was some months ago.
The approach is generally that the householder applies for the
grant, perhaps with the help of a supplier. However, the precise
approach depends on the country/province/principality someone lives
in and the precise grant.
Note that the grants discriminate against DIY. They are only
available for "professionally" installed systems. There is also a
discriminatory regime on VAT, again discriminating against DIY.
If you have the skills and time it is likely to be cheaper to DIY,
despite the discrimination.
is a good source of
parts for DIY.
In terms of energy they are likely to be solar thermal, wind and
solar electric in your list. However, it does depend on your site.
Do a bit of research and you may find a local organisation which
offers help to wade through the options
guide to some of the options. You may be able to rule some of them
out quickly, but others may be worth investigating.
What installation problems there are depends on your particular
house. For example fitting solar thermal to a house which has a
combination boiler which cannot accept warm water is rather
different to fitting a Solartwin panel
On Mon, 7 Jan 2008 14:18:20 -0800 (PST), firstname.lastname@example.org
Grant availability is inconsistent but some companies are particularly
adept at managing the grant process. It is fairly straightforward and
they seem to be able to get approval quickly. The only problem is
that the companies approved under the grant schemes have almost
universally inflated their prices by at least the value of the grant
so the end user gets no benefit from them.
For most of the UK roof mounted wind turbines are useless other than
as a green fashion statement, There is an ongoing project in
Warwickshire (The Warwickshire Wind Energy Project) assessing their
effectiveness and although little factual information is being
released so far the monetary saving has been in the order of a few
pence a day. Typically in an urban environment you will generate
electricity worth about £4 in one year. The problem is the lack of
wind in urban environments coupled with the inescapable cube law on
energy produced against wind speed. A figure often bandied about is
that the "average" windspeed in the UK is 5.6m/s . Assuming that
produced 100W output from a generator if the wind speed dropped to
3m/s (higher than that being measured on houses in the Warwickshire
trial) the electricity generated falls to about 12W.
Hot water systems are simple but generally have inflated installation
prices, they only make economic sense if done as a DIY project. I had
one for some years and it was an interesting experiment but not much
more. The DTI carried out a 12 month trial of various panels and
found that a single solar panel of any type if optimally sited would
collect about 1MWh of energy in one year, equivalent to a saving of
about £40 if you use gas to heat your water. It would cost between
£2,000 and £8,000 to install commercially. Vacuum tube collectors are
more efficient than flat panel but tend to be made into smaller panels
so generally there isn't much difference between panels. There is
very little difference between manufacturers. Navitron are worth
looking at for DIY bits as their prices for the vacuum tubes are quite
Solar PV is useful in remote sites where there is no mains
electricity. Its cost is prohibitively high except in these locations
or to power individual low consumption devices. The roughly 1sqm BP
panel I have as an experimental setup originally cost nearly £1,000
and produces about 60W in bright sunlight but today for example, with
a very dull overcast, is producing about 3W. It makes no economic
sense if grid electricity is available as the payback period is much
longer than the panel life.
A problem with solar energy in the UK is that there isn't much sun
when its needed and most comes at the time of least energy usage.
The great majority of "alternative" energy companies are out and out
fraudsters. Almost universally they make vastly inflated claims for
the capability of their products. The skill levels generally in this
sector are poor and although there are some enthusiasts who are also
competent it is difficult to find them.
In financial terms none of the three common technologies make sense.
Air source heat pumps (inverter air conditioners) can. Ground source
heat pumps are beginning to make sense especially if you have a lot of
land and are planning major works anyway but don't work too well
unless you have underfloor heating. They are also no better than a
good condensing boiler in terms of heating costs or carbon emissions.
There is some data on ground source heat pumps from the Barratt
Chorley experiment (which used a 30M borehole rather than a widespread
network of pipes so is better suited to urban environments) which
indicates a payback period of about 15 years.
is universal about all the ecotechnologies is that the potential
energy generation or saving is invariably grossly overstated and this
is becoming clearer now actual measurements are beginning to be made
There is no doubt that if you spent the money you were contemplating
spending on alternative energy on insulation and better and more
controlled ventilation and heating you would get better value for
I resent that. I am an engineer,who has learnt the hard way that the
recipe for good engineering is to do the difficult sums. The ones with
pound signs in them.
The fact that these technolofies do NOT pay for themselves, in an era
when the cost of fuel tends to dominate the price of anything
manufactured, shows that if they are not cost effective, they likley are
not fuel efficient either.
> Grants can help the costs but generally you are then tied to using
> "approved" installers and systems. You don't get much, if any, flexabilty
> to design a system to suit your requirements, property or have a
> combination of energy sources. Personally I don't like being told which
> contractors I can use, particulary when I'm not in control of the project. >
In article , email@example.com says...
While that's almost certainly true of commecially available systems, if
you can make your own solar HW system with scrounged bits you could
probably save a bit of money - but it's not going to be a lot.
In article , firstname.lastname@example.org says...
Passive solar gain can make quite a difference in the autumn and spring.
Since finishing the conservatory we've noticed we can do without the
heating until it's quite a bit colder outside (on sunny days) than we
could before. Opening the door allows the conservatory to heat the whole
house during the day and, with a sunlit concrete floor, for a couple of
hours after dark, too.
I'm still to be totally convinced by heatpumps. COPs of 4 and even 5
are advertised by manufacturers, yet the only real world figures I've
been able to find are 2 or a bit better - and that's ground source
with UFH and plenty of insulation. I know that with green technologies
in the home it's compulsory to exaggerate about their performance, but
I simply couldn't buy a heat pump from someone who I know is lying to
me. Also, when it comes to payback, the additional cost of UFH etc. is
not factored in. I know some manufacturers say you can use radiators,
but they already lied about the COP, so I don't believe them.
What sort of COP can air source heat pumps really achieve on average
throughout a heating season, with radiators, and supplying hot water?
In article ,
More attention to both desirable and undesirable solar gain in
house design would probably bear more fruit than many of the
pointless energy saving schemes which currently have the public
I'd agree, they only really make sense in a new build where you are
installing underfloor heating and you don't have mains gas and don't
want an oil tank or are worried about future oil price. Compared with
bulk Propane or electricity they would be a good choice but not
On Tue, 08 Jan 2008 14:58:20 +0000, Peter Parry
I wonder if they would make sense with a 30m deep borehole in central
london, assuming you could miss all services/tubes, for a block of
flats with about the best insulation you can get and underfloor
heating via an overly optimistic solar thermal plus other renewable
i SECOND HUGE on this
the best return is on insulation and design
I have - as a matter of interest - also installed a heat pump and did
most of it myself but got the contractor to fill up with glycol and to
switch it on and on that basis can apply via him for a grant