Following the December 2018 announcement of the closure of the export feed-in tariff (FIT) in March 2019, Kensa assures hesitant would-be new purchasers of solar photovoltaic panels (PV) that there are still many benefits of solar PV if used in collaboration with ground source heat pumps. Kensa’s support comes amid the expectation of a hiatus between the demise of the FiT and the implementation of Government’s proposed market-based replacement.
Whilst we await consultations on the future framework for small-scale renewable electrical generation, this shouldn’t mean lights out on their opportunities in the meantime. Self builders can utilise the surplus electricity to power a ground source heat pump to further reduce energy bills and emissions, rural landowners can tap into new business opportunities using heat from ground source heat pumps powered by surplus on-site generation, and developers can significantly cut their carbon compliance costs.
As of April 2019 households featuring new solar photovoltaic (PV) panel installations will not be paid via the export FiT for excess electricity exported to the grid, meaning until Government implement a replacement regime, any of the clean power you generate that you can’t use on site will flow back into the grid for free.
The consultation for a mandatory supplier-led route to market for small-scale low-carbon generation: the Smart Export Guarantee (SEG), creating a marketplace for energy firms to compete to offer solar homes the best price for unused electricity they export, is open to views until the 5th March 2019. Taking into account the time required to consider responses, parliamentary time to pass the legislation and implement the guarantee, it is expected there will be a hiatus between the export tariff’s demise at the end of March 2019 and the new regime, meaning new solar households will be giving power away for some time.
Don’t let your surplus electricity go to waste
Ground source heat pumps are electrically powered devices that harness the natural heat energy freely available from ground or water sources and upgrade this to provide heating and hot water. The technology produces three times more energy than it uses, making it an extremely energy efficient source of heating, with no combustion, point-of-use emissions nor pollution.
By pairing a ground source heat pump with solar PV, many happy Kensa customers are experiencing a holistic and rewarding renewably sourced heating and electricity supply. Indeed, with a typical solar installation costing around £6,000, less than half what it did when the FiT started, then the costs for a self sufficient self-build start to balance out thanks to the energy savings accumulated from renewably powering the energy efficient heat pump, coupled with the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) income for the heat generated by the heat pump.
Ground source sows the seeds of new business opportunities
Ground source heat pumps offer rural landowners even more than a low cost, efficient heating solution and a guaranteed income from the Government; when combined with existing renewable technologies they can be the catalyst that creates lucrative new business opportunities.
Ground source is easily integrated with battery storage and other electricity generating renewable technologies, such as wind, hydro or solar. Kensa is urging owners of these systems to consider using a ground source heat pump to turn any surplus electricity into heat energy, instead of letting it go for free back to the grid.
This 100% sustainably sourced and renewably produced heat can then be used in other income generating activities, such as commercial drying processes, producing fertiliser from animal waste or rock salt for crisps, or for keeping greenhouses at an ambient temperature. As these ground source systems are eligible for generous funding from the Non Domestic Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI), the equipment costs will in most cases be quickly recouped.
Case Study: East Shaftoe Farm
One arable farm in Northumberland replaced an old oil boiler with a cascaded ground source heat pump system to provide heating to a farmhouse and outbuildings at a much lower cost.
By integrating the ground source heat pump system with the wind turbine and solar panels already on site, 100% of the farm’s energy needs are now supplied by renewable technologies. The owners have also directed some of the heat energy into a hydroponics system, allowing them to effectively diversify their business. (Read the East Shaftoe Farm case study here)
PV and GSHP in zero carbon cities
Go a step further and the value of PV, FiT aside, remains substantial in the drive towards ‘zero-carbon cities’, and therefore the associated increasing penalties developers face to ensure carbon compliance.
The impact on developers in London for example who choose to install solar PV alongside ground source heat pumps, instead of gas combi boilers, in addition to the minimum required fabric efficiencies, could equate to a saving in carbon offset funds of as much as £636,300 on a 300 unit development. (Based on a representative 70m2 new build in London with a 4,200kWh heat demand.) (Read Kensa’ blog on how developers can cut the cost of carbon compliance here).
Indeed, the Greater London Authority (GLA) report, ‘Low Carbon Heat: Heat Pumps In London’ states:
Energy efficiency reduces demand to the lowest level, heat pumps deliver low carbon heat and PVs play a significant role in offsetting on-site the residual carbon emissions.
Looking ahead to 2030, preliminary analysis indicates that very low levels of total on-site carbon emissions (i.e. approximately 2kgCO2/m2/yr) can be delivered if very high standards of energy efficiency are achieved, an efficient heat pump system is provided and roof-mounted PVs are maximised.
Read Kensa’s response to the GLA report here.