At one time, installing renewable technologies was a cost-prohibitive move, taking up to 25 years for the initial outlay to be recovered through reduced fuel bills. Now, thanks to FiTs for electricity generating technology and the RHI for heating, systems will pay for themselves within around eight to ten years and offer a return on investment of between 6-12% - better than putting money in a savings account!
Both schemes work by providing cash back for energy produced and, if you make more than your building needs, this can be sold back to the National Grid or heat network, further increasing the money-making potential.
FiTs has been going since last year and the RHI has just been launched for non-commercial properties. The best tariff levels are available now and likely to reduce as time goes on, so if you are interested, strike while the iron's hot. FiTs is also available for domestic applications - the RHI will be from October.
As a further incentive, next year, the Government is launching the Green Deal, which offers loans towards the cost of the equipment or energy saving measures, paid back through utility bills.
The Green Deal also covers energy efficiency measures which will reduce the carbon footprint of your business while cutting fuel bills - the golden rule of the scheme is that more money is saved than spent. This could be insulation, double glazing or low energy lighting, all of which will make a massive difference to the price of gas and electricity. In the average home, loft insulation can save £145 a year off a fuel bill, so the bigger your work premises, the more money you could be keeping in your back pocket.
ECAs enable a business to claim 100% first-year capital allowances on energy saving equipment, such as plant and machinery, low carbon dioxide emission vehicles or water conservation. There is a specific ECA Energy Stream, which covers renewable equipment, such as solar heating, biomass boilers and ground and air source heat pumps.
Under the scheme, businesses can write off the whole of the capital cost of their investment in these technologies against their taxable profits.
Designed for Small to Medium Enterprises (SMEs) The Carbon Trust offers unsecured interest-free energy efficiency loans of up to £100,000 (£200,000 in Northern Ireland). The loans cover measures such higher efficiency boilers, energy-saving lighting or insulation.
It is worth checking what funding is available in your area; most local authorities have a pot of money which can be applied for by businesses looking to reduce their carbon footprint. Examples include the Regional Growth Fund, the European Regional Development Fund and the Big Lottery Fund.
For the installation of renewable technologies you must make sure the installers and equipment you choose are Micro-generation Certification Scheme (MCS) accredited otherwise you won't be able to access funding. A good installation company should be able to give you advice on the best technology for your building and how to take advantage of the initiatives mentioned in this article.
More information about funding streams are available on our energy saving tips page.
Mark Krull is an eco-expert and marketing director for Logic4training
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