Switching to renewable energy can be a game-changer for businesses. Not only can it save money and help businesses to meet ambitious sustainability targets, but it can also transform their corporate image. By committing to green energy, your company can become known as a industry leader for environmental responsibility.
There’s also the risk that by sticking to fossil fuels, you could get left behind. Recent research has found that around a third of businesses in the UK are generating their own energy. The retail sector is leading the way, with almost 40 per cent of firms investing in green power production.
There are two key ways to implement renewable energy in your company. The first is to switch to a supplier offering a green tariff. This is where 100 per cent (or a significant proportion) of the energy supplied comes from renewable sources. Many of the major suppliers offer such a tariff, or you may prefer to choose a specialist in renewable energy.
The other option is to generate green energy yourself. This requires a significant investment in infrastructure and equipment, but it can pay for itself over time. You’ll also have the chance to make huge savings on your business energy bills. Some companies are even able to generate revenue through selling excess energy back to the grid.
With the ability to tap into your own power source, you’ll have more freedom and more control. Even if the energy market experiences periods of unpredictability, you’ll have valuable price protection – because you aren’t so reliant on energy suppliers.
What are the best renewable energy sources?
If you’re considering generating your own power, there are a few choices available to you. Renewable sources of energy suitable for small-scale commercial use include solar panels, wind turbines and biomass technology.
The technology you choose depends on a number of crucial factors. For example, the location of your premises and how much space you have available. Your budget for infrastructure investment also plays a key role, as do the policies of your local authority and the type of buildings your business owns.
Solar power is considered the best renewable energy source for businesses. This is mainly because it is more feasible to implement compared to wind power, where a great deal of space would be needed to install a large turbine. You may also face local planning restrictions, objections from residents and other on-site restrictions. Unless you enjoy a coastal or high ground location, own your land and have the support of the local authority, wind power may not be a viable option.
Solar panels, on the other hand, take up relatively little space and can be accommodated on existing rooftops. How much power you can generate depends on your location and the orientation of rooftop space (south-facing rooftops are able to absorb more sunlight). You’ll also need a large amount of unused rooftop or other space. If you’re able to invest heavily in solar power generation, you could replace your current energy source completely. Otherwise, you may need to have a back-up source of power available.
Other renewable energy systems include biomass technology, which generates energy by burning organic material (i.e. straw or wood pellets). You can also invest in solar thermal energy installations or ground source heat pumps.
Each business is different, so you’ll need to weigh up all of your options carefully before choosing the best system for your company. It’s recommended to speak to a green energy specialist for tailored advice, so you can choose the system – or combination of systems – that will deliver the best return on investment for your business. You need a solution that fits your needs and budget, generates the power you need and is the most cost-effective.
Are renewable energy sources cost effective?
If you’re choosing the best renewable energy source for your business, there’s one calculation that could be absolutely crucial. This is how long it’ll take to earn back the amount spent on implementing the new system.
Here’s a quick guide to each renewable power source, including the initial cost and the time it could take to pay back. But remember, it can vary considerably between businesses based on factors such as location, combination of systems and others.
- Solar power. Smaller PV panel systems cost between £5,000 and £10,000 and take 6-10 years to pay back
- Wind power. Microturbines start from around £10,000 each (larger turbines can cost upwards of £3.3 million) and take around 8-15 years. For larger turbines, the payback time is reduced to 1-5 years.
- Biomass systems. The cost varies depending on fuel type and size, but usually takes 5-12 years to pay back.
- Ground source heat pumps. You’ll pay around £11,000 to £15,000 for this kind of system, and get your money back around 15 years later.
Remember that once you’ve recouped your initial investment, it’s all savings from that point onwards. This is what makes renewable energy a cost-effective choice, especially for businesses which are committed to a more sustainable future.