It's possible to construct stand-alone power supplies based on
solar or wind which are quite capable of powering an office for a
small business, remote from the grid.
These systems are not cheap, but they give your business independence.
You will be fully functional during power cuts, which (if
present policies are continued) are likely to become much more
frequent. Blackouts are relatively uncommon now, but imagine five years down the
line....perhaps environmentalists have scuppered plans for a new generation
of nuclear stations, Russia has turned off our gas, and our older coal
fired power stations are being phased out because they don't
meet the latest batch of EU emission regulations....
Photovoltaic or wind powered UPS (uninterrupted power supply) systems will set you back a significant amount.
The Government is looking at renewables as a way of reducing carbon
dioxide emissions. They are saying this is a "holistic" program. They do
not want to give grants to people whose first thought is to invest in
something very expensive. They will only let you have a grant when you
have done all of the cheaper things.
Your roof must be insulated to
a depth of 12 inches, your cavity wall must be insulated, and you must
have all low energy lighting. You won't get a grant for the high-tech
things unless you've done the basics first.
If you've done all that, what percentage of the expense will you get as
It varies - sometimes it's 20%, sometimes it's 30%, and photovoltaics is
50%. The government can say "up to 50%" and we all get excited, but actually
the 50% is only for the photovoltaics.
Do the sums add up on these systems, in terms of what you might save
on your fuel bills?
The ones which add up are the very cheap things. You pay back what
spent extremely quickly. Let's say the average house emits 5 tonnes
CO2 in a year, and you want to save a tonne of it. If you do the cheapest
measures, (draughtproofing - say £50) it will instantly
make you feel warmer. If you get cavity wall insulation, or loft
insulation, or change your light bulbs, you will
really notice the difference in your bills. Low
energy light bulbs are so much better than they used to be.
Measures like this are
going to cost you in the region of £10 per tonne of CO2.
If you want to invest in some of these other technologies
you'll be spending a lot more than this.
But if you need an independent
power supply for your business, or you already have a UPS system
plus inverter running off the grid, and you want to get a turbine
or photovoltaics to keep the batteries topped up, these systems are
undeniably useful. They can
give you a significant amount of independence. This is likely to
become much more important as fossil fuels decline.
ND / Habitat21
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