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Thread: Advice on renewables

  1. #1
    SD Regular teyhan1's Avatar
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    Advice on renewables

    I am about to move to a smallholding. With the move will come a little spare cash and I am considering some kind of renewable energy, PV, wind, Ground/Air source.
    What are your experiences of any system you may have?
    Any advice greatfully received.
    I should say that I will be in Leominster, Herefordshire. Soil is heavy clay I believe. Land is flat at river level
    “Man surprised me most about humanity. Because he sacrifices his health in order to make money.Then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health. And then he is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present; the result being that he does not live in the present or the future; he lives as if he is never going to die, and then dies having never really lived.”........Dalai Lama

  2. #2
    The key to maximising the potential saving, and to fully utilise any of the renewable technologies you mentioned, is proper insulating of the building to begin with.
    So consider updating the insulation, floor, walls and roof if you can, and sealing around all the openings.
    No one systems can do the work of the other, ie you need to combine a mixture to get the best possible solution.

    Air source & pv panels offer the best solution for most existing buildings.
    No matter what the output from your panels, or what time of day it is, the most cost-effective strategy is to use all the electricity they produce.
    If you install an air source heat pump to power your heating and hot water, you get the perfect partner for your PV panels excess output.

    Roughly speaking for every kw you generate will be multiplied into 3-5 times as much heat energy, which can be automatically be fed into your hot water tank.
    Ground source heating works best with modern houses, where there's a need for under floor heating, and naturally the insulation levels are already higher.

    You should also look at the Renewable Heat Incentive RHI.
    A Government backed scheme for grants for renewable technologies for domestic use.

    Domestic Renewable Heat Incentive | Ofgem

    Renewable Heat Incentive | Energy Saving Trust

  3. #3
    I've heard that air source heating is not all that it's made out to be - the manufacturers make false claims about efficiency etc. My neighbour has just got rid of an expensive air source system and replaced it with an oil heating system.

  4. #4
    Are you going to be near a river, or other moving water?
    (The Unspeakable In Pursuit Of The Uneatable.) " If I can help, I will help!." Former S.A.C.S. member!

  5. #5
    Ground source is a costly way to get four heating unless you have plenty of photo voltaic solar panels,to run the pump etc .also the maintenance and disposal of the glycol in the pipe work. which must be replaced any time from 10 to 20 years. which is the life span of the fluid.then you also have the risk of ground freeze as well.
    Better to go with wind or water powered electric for your energy. backed up with a wood burning stove/boiler if you can get enough wood cheap for next 20 years as every body is,putting wood boilers in.and the price of fuel is rising with the demand.

    Bob
    "a man does good business when he rids himself of a turd"

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by takbok View Post
    I've heard that air source heating is not all that it's made out to be - the manufacturers make false claims about efficiency etc. My neighbour has just got rid of an expensive air source system and replaced it with an oil heating system.
    This, we spent ages looking in to both ASHP and GSHP. Nearly went for the latter but even though it was closer than air, we could never get the figures to stack up. Went with biomass in the end - wood is cheap.

  7. #7
    pv panels and tesla power wall.

    its the future.

  8. #8
    Wind is not an option at all unless you have a average wind speed of at least 5mtrs/sec, there's a national wind speed database you can consult. The main problem with wind is that it only generates power when the wind speed is within a quite limited range as above a certain speed (around 20mtrs/sec depending on design) the tip speed is too high and cavitation occurs so the wind turbine has to be switched off. The main problem is that it may be generating when you don't need the power, e.g. the middle of the night, and you'll have to have a bank of batteries and a sophisticated control system to store the power for when you do need it. Vertical axis wind turbines are a better option than the standard horizontal axis versions (propellor type) as they don't have these narrow wind speed range problem, they start generating at lower speeds and don't really have a practical upper limit but in larger outputs, say 10mw plus, they generate such huge torque that the shaft often can't take the stress and they shear.

    Air source heat pump power is cheaper than ground source but not as efficient in terms of generated energy coefficient and ground source is a pretty good option provided you have a suitable site for installation. Roof panels to heat water are also pretty good but both ground/air source and thermal roof panels only produce water to about 60oC and, whilst OK for hot water, this is not hot enough for central heating without a fossil fuel boost unless you have underfloor heating in which case it's fine. If not you are going to have to boost it by about 20oC to heat radiators. They won't work with a "combi" boiler system of course. PV solar roof panels are fine for direct electrical generation but without some sort of subsidy take an age to pay back, the are however getting better and payback times are shortening. You do not need a roof facing due south and they will generate in other than direct sunlight but you do have to be between SE and SW facing and on a pitched roof to get the best from them.

    For hydro you obviously not only need a source of flowing water but one that has a minimum flow during the summer and your structure containing the screw will not have to be any impediment or danger to migratory fish moving up and down the stream. One option often overlooked but an extremely good form of renewable energy are anaerobic digesters but you need a constant source of organic material to feed it with and they are quite labour intensive, different feed materials produced wildly different outputs, for example cow muck is poor as a rule as the cows extract energy from their food quite efficiently but chicken muck is very good, a large chicken farm can often make more money from producing power from their effluent than selling chickens. Once you get to a large scale the methane output from an AD is usually burnt to generate power to be fed directly into the grid but this is not possible on a domestic scale and the methane generated becomes an alternative fuel for household burners such as cooker and central heating boilers.

    If you have access to woodland or a supply of pellets then biomass is a good option but not everyone can get this.
    Last edited by paul k; 12-05-2015 at 18:53.

  9. #9
    SD Regular teyhan1's Avatar
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    The place I am buying has 3.4 acres so ground mounted PV is possible and therefore orientation to the sun not a problem.
    From my understanding clay soil is not really suited to Ground Source.
    I don't have underfloor heating as the building is part old barn and part 70's build.
    Although near a river (more of a brook really) it is still 100m away, hence the £10,000 flood excess on the property.
    So if I were to install PV and Air source how would you top up the heating, as it will go to rads and the air source won't generate enough heat to run them? Conventional boiler?
    “Man surprised me most about humanity. Because he sacrifices his health in order to make money.Then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health. And then he is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present; the result being that he does not live in the present or the future; he lives as if he is never going to die, and then dies having never really lived.”........Dalai Lama

  10. #10
    PV not on your Roof will need planing permission

    PV is a good way to make some return as you get payed per unit unfortunately the Tories Cut the Price a while back We where lucky and got finished before so get 43p a unit index linked gives approx £1800 pay out by comparison the saving of using the electric ourselves only adds another £200 ish for the 4kw array and you can only use it when your in so Washing machines etc when the sun is up

    Air source etc does work but you need a company that knows what they re doing i.e was around before the cowboys started up to get a fast buck and its as mentioned best to run underfloor as it operated at a lower temp than rads so ideal for AS /GS

    you could look at a bio Fuel Burner you have the room to build a shed for it and a feed hopper etc

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