Exciting times for renewables

FARMS, commercial businesses and householders in the North East have a growing list of options available to them if they want to get involved in energy generation from renewable sources.

At an event in the Lochter Activity Centre near Oldmeldrum, held jointly by NFU Scotland and Soil Association Scotland, delegates heard that wind energy, although popular, is only one option open to those interested.

The growing list of potential renewable technologies suitable to the region now stretches to solar, biomass, air and ground heat source and heat recovery

Chairing the event, NFU Scotland’s North East Renewables Convenor Davie Smith said: “This event has helped promote awareness within the farming and rural community of the many forms that renewable energy generation can take, many of which could be adopted readily by farms, homes and businesses in the region.

“While we have a lot of information available on wind energy and many are involved or looking at wind turbines in the North East, this is a technology that may not be suitable for everyone.

“However, it may be that solar, biomass, air or ground source heat pumps or heat recovery may be the right choice.

“Certainly biomass has the potential to meet the small scale heating requirements of private homes or can be developed on a larger scale to help operate grain dryers or heat larger business premises.

“And on solar, while support through the Feed in Tariff (FiTs) rates may be falling, the cost of panels and the technology are tumbling and energy generation through the solar route may be more economical than before.

“Air source heat pumps are simple installations and can be very effective for domestic heating and ground source heating, while more expensive, can be run alongside a small turbine to be more cost effective.

“Even heat recovery may have a place within commercial or farm buildings, extracting the air from stores or cattle sheds, taking out the heat and utilising that heat elsewhere.

“Funding routes are available. Certainly qualifying for Feed In Tariffs (FiTs) can help make projects more economical and help secure the necessary finance.

“The Renewable Heat Incentive scheme is also an important source of support for renewable heat developments in commercial businesses and the good news is that there are plans to expand the existing scheme to offer a domestic scheme for individual households from summer 2013.

“That would be a boost and help ensure that the uptake of renewable technologies across the North East continues to grow.”