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Issue 4 Autumn 2009

CASE STUDIES Solar tiles in London; GSHP in Middlesex; biofuel in Norfolk ASHP From cottage industry to mainstream, says Mitsubishi LEGISLATION Part L changes pitch for compliance-friendly outcome

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WET & WILD Torrs Hydro, Welsh hills, and the future of waterpower

PLUS s& w o h s Farm g rows: n planni ek in A we f an o the life ller insta






New SAP draft will be no match for wild weather

04 News Dulas, Active, Good Energy, HETAS, Passivhaus and Perpetual Energy 06 News Analysis Part L changes pitch for compliancefriendly outcome 09 News Profile Donald Daw, commercial director of Mitsubishi Electric, makes the case for ASHPs to go mainstream

OPINION 10 Micro-wind Next year’s feed-in tariff is already generating demand, says Ben Cosh 10 MCS Where the scheme is at. Why it benefits installers 10 Q&A Anna Katz, Viessmann’s academy & customer comms director 11 Editors Comment


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12 Hydro A combination of community push and utility company pull is powering the market for hydro projects. REI vists Torrs Hydro & Lake Vyrnwy 16 Case Studies Solar tiles in London; GSHP in Middlesex; biofuel in Norfolk 18 New Products The latest from Firebird, Vokera, Klober, Grant UK, Schneider, Better Generation, Hoval, Filsol, Genersys, Kingspan Solar and Worcester Bosch 20 Training Nu-Heat on business benefit; Solfex to expand its installer training programme 21 Insurance Proper cover is required, but finding it can be tough 22 My Working Week Farming shows and planning rows, with Andy & Susan Carr of Sky Flair

Editor: Lu Quinney Special Features Editor: Karen Fletcher Publishing Manager: Jonathan Hibbert Published by: Ashley & Dumville Publishing Ltd, Regent House, Bexton Lane, Knutsford, Cheshire WA16 9AB Tel: 01565 653283

REI is printed on Revive 75 silk paper, a recycled product with 50% de-inked post consumer waste and 25% pre-consumer waste and 25% virgin wood fibre.

New simulation software is vital if the industry is to differentiate between regional variations and unusual occupancy patterns he new SAP draft, currently at the consultation stage, uses fresh Met Office data to increase the annual irradiation contribution. In the case of solar pre-heating of DHW, this will be added to further proposed increases from the boiler performance difference that exists between summer and winter use. This provides a further 10% efficiency gain to displace summer boiler use for DHW, avoiding the previous (unrealistic) SEDBUK figure. While the new draft is a definite improvement, there remain significant underlying limitations, say critics. For example, the climate data model remains fixed to a single UK location, namely Sheffield. This is a historical legacy which allows fair comparison of house-building in different regions, but proves


occupancy patterns or nondomestic properties. Other calculation methods have become necessary. Computer simulation software is now a common part of any tendering and sales presentation process, and is essential for detailed design and fine-tuning,” said Chris Laughton, founder of the Solar Design Company. “Too many

The new draft is a definite improvement, but there remain significant underlying limitations inaccurate when estimating renewables in coastal, mountainous or extreme UK latitudes. Also of concern, SAP is based on a ‘typical’ DHW regime and so is unable to handle, for example, unusual

projects are trying to use SAP for design or specification of complex renewable systems. This eventually leads to disappointment.” Simulators can now account for multiple occupancy

dwellings, schools and district heating systems, for example, far more than SAP. It is then possible to see examples of large variances in hot water use which significantly affect performance predictions of solar DHW. Also, incorporating the effect of daily and seasonal shading can critically affect grid-connected photovoltaic systems. In this case peak values can be anticipated - vital for equipment durability. “All simulations of renewable energy systems are only as good as the data put into them. This is as true for SAP as it is for the more sophisticated programs,” said Laughton. “It’s only by performing computer simulations based on hourly analysis that it becomes possible to resolve detail at a daily level, crucial when comparing detailed variables in a design.”

Green talk draws installers The organisers of September’s Installer Live claimed 9,982 heating and plumbing engineers attended the event over the course of the three days at Coventry’s Ricoh Arena. The Green Station, sponsored by the Plumb Center and Parts Center, included talks from Stiebel Eltron, Viessmann Solar and Baxi, with standing room only for many presentations. 3

“We’d like to get to a situation where ashps are seen as a badge of environmental goodness, like a solar panel.” Donald Daw of Mitsubishi Electric on the potential for ashps, p9


National Trust plans for a greener future Europe’s largest conservation body, the National Trust, is carrying out feasibility studies to decide whether more of its historic buildings and castles are suitable for renewable energy developments. Perpetual Energy has been appointed to conduct some of the work, which will analyse the viability of Biomass and Solar Thermal technologies. Over £35,000 has been set aside to fund the studies. Buildings being considered for the sustainable measures include: Chirk Castle in Wrexham, Clandon Park and Mansion House in Surrey, Compton Castle in Devon, Dyffryn Mymbyr Residential Farm in Snowdonia, and Stackpole Outdoor Learning Centre in Pembrokeshire. The aim of the National Trust initiative is to further explore alternatives to nonrenewable fossil fuels, while comparing CO² output and energy costs. The extent of the National Trust portfolio highlights the challenge it is undertaking, with some of the properties being hundreds of years old. But the aim is to reduce


energy is supplied. The system is accredited under the government's Microgeneration Scheme making it eligible for a £900 installation grant. Mitsubishi Electric produces its Ecodan range out of its Livingstone factory. Kellett said this didn’t decide the contract but admitted it “didn’t harm us that we’re in Scotland and employing Scottish workers.” For more on Mitsubishi Electric, see News Profile on p9

New build puts A into Aberdeen One of the most energy efficient buildings in the UK can be found in…Aberdeen. According to its occupants, the new Active Renewable Energy Centre will slash annual energy costs by two-thirds. It is the only A rated building in the city, per the government’s Energy Performance Certificates. Active, a renewable energy specialist, has invested more than £3m into the site in the Minto Commercial Park. A combination of office and workshop space, the 1,665m2 building houses 70 staff and uses a range of micro-renewable

technologies including ground and air-source heat pumps, solar panels and a road energy system, which soaks up heat from tarmac surfaces. A wind turbine will be added. The company hopes by the end of the year it will be one of the first buildings to be completely self sufficient in terms of energy use. It plans to sell any excess to the National Grid. The typical energy consumption for a commercial building of this style is approximately 190,000kW/hrs with an estimated fuel cost of £15,741 per annum. Even without the wind turbine the

building’s fuel costs are estimated to be just £5,195. Ian Nicol, Active’s md said: “From the ground up this building has been designed to be extremely efficient. Its exact position on the site has been chosen to minimise heat gain on the south face while maximising the potential of the solar panels on the roof. Internally it makes the most of natural light and ventilation by optimising north facing roof lights. The building was designed by architects Halliday Fraser Munro and built by Stewart Milne Construction.

carbon emissions by 20% in these buildings over the next three years.

The EST’s report, its most detailed to date, is a response to critics’ claims that some devices failed to generate the amount of electricity outlined by manufacturers. The report can be found on the EST’s website, it should show whether a turbine will help homeowners cut their bills. "Because the turbines are seen as a new, emerging technology, there has been very little proper monitoring and performance assessment," explained author Simon Green, the EST's head of business development. The two-year study involved 57 locations, ranging from south-west England to the Orkney Islands, and tested a range of turbines that fell within two categories: building-mounted and free standing polemounted. "We believe that a minimum average wind speed needs to be at least five metres per second (18km/h; 11mph),” says Green.

Dulas takes BREA ‘Company of the Year’ prize

Report identifies UK wind hotspots The positive news is that some households could generate more than £2,800 worth of electricity a year via micro-wind turbines. The reality for others, according to a new study by the Energy Savings Trust, is that some locations would actually lose money.

Dulas scooped the ‘Company of the Year’ prize at this year’s British Renewable Energy Awards. The Machynlleth-based company, now with 60 plus employees, has grown significantly in the last five years and boasts partnerships with some of the renewable energy industry’s largest stakeholders, such as the National Trust and the Sainsbury’s Trust. Ian Draisey, the company’s marketing director said: “It is great to be recognised by the British renewable energy industry and be rewarded by our peers. Although recognising Dulas’ longevity in the renewable energy industry this wasn’t a lifetime achievement award, it was about being the best renewable energy company in the UK today.” Dulas has been

PTS cosies up to apprentices

responsible for many of the UK’s first solar, wind, hydro and biomass installations, as well as playing a major role in delivering UK government’s renewable energy policy, as a framework supplier to the Low Carbon Buildings Programme.

Masterclass for microgenerators Good Energy, the 100% renewable electricity supplier, is launching the first in a series of special masterclasses, ‘Power from the People: How to Generate Renewable Energy’. The first event will be held at Good Energy’s wind farm in Delabole, Cornwall on October 31st. Speakers include experience generators, plus Good Energy staff and partners - including the Soil Association and Cooperative Bank. Workshops will cover technology, finance and revenue generation.

The workshops are aimed at both microgenerators wishing to provide energy on a domestic or small commercial scale and at commercial generators who want to generate and export electricity, who can earn an income to underpin their business or community. Juliet Davenport, founder and CEO of Good Energy said: “A cornerstone of Good Energy’s philosophy is growing renewable generation in the UK. We want to make it as easy as possible for homes, businesses and communities to generate their own clean energy.”

Mitsubishi Electric wins huge ashp order Mitsubishi Electric has won a contract to supply 1200 Ecodan air source heat pumps to Scottish Gas. The deal is part of the Scottish government's Energy Assistance

Package to relieve fuel poverty. Ecodan pumps can lower CO2 emissions by up to 50 per cent and reduce running costs by at least 30 per cent compared to modern gas boilers. “This is a major endorsement for Ecodan and demonstrates the faith that Scottish Gas has placed in the system’s ability to reduce running costs for households,” said John Kellett, general manager of the company’s Heating Division. Ecodan harvests renewable energy from the surrounding air so that for every 1kW of electricity it consumes, 3kW or more of heating

PTS has signed on to sponsor South Lanarkshire College’s Low Carbon Initiative. The College offers renewable energy related courses and has recently started construction on its own low carbon house. The building will show apprentices the number of energy efficient options available and illustrate how a Code Level 5 rating can be achieved. Once completed, the low carbon house will have solar thermal and photovoltaic panels, heat pumps, rainwater harvesting, state-of-theart insulation and triple glazing. “This is a vital model of best practice for the apprentices to learn from,” said Ian Stares, PTS product group manager – Renewable and Sustainable Products. “It’s vital that we support both apprentices and the continued growth of the renewable energy market

as they are the future of our industry.” PTS has 33 branches across Scotland, five of which are located in Lanarkshire.

Passivhaus projects finds Code flaws There are serious flaws in the energy calculations used for Code for Sustainable Homes with Research, according to the most findings from the Denby Dale Passivhaus project in West Yorkshire. The research found that the Denby Dale, currently being constructed by Green Building Store's construction division, would only meet CSH level 3 criteria, despite being tipped as one of the most energy-efficient buildings in the UK. All buildings meeting the strict Passivhaus standards have to have space heating requirements of less than 15 kWh/m2/year, and use up to 90% less energy to heat than standard UK homes, often requiring minimal or no heating. In addition, airtightness for Passivhaus buildings is required to be no more than 0.6 air changes at 50 Pascals. The report points out that many buildings receiving higher CSH ratings actually perform worse than Denby Dale in terms of space heating requirements and airtightness, but gain points in other areas, and sometimes through the use of inefficient and expensive bolt-on renewable technologies.


HETAS creates new technical & standards role HETAS has appointed Robert Burke in the new position of technical and standards manager. Previously technical manager for Red Bank Manufacturing and president of the British Flue and Chimney Manufacturers Association (BFCMA), Burke has a wealth of experience in the solid fuel and biomass industry. At HETAS, he will be responsible for regulations and standards, and will manage appliance approvals and certification. He will also be heavily involved with the new HETAS Microgeneration Certification Scheme. In other appointments news, Sharlene Wilson has joined Perpetual Energy as company’s technical consultant. Wilson was previously Sustainable Energy Installations where she spent 12 months as a project engineer, conducting feasibility studies and managing projects for on-site microrenewable projects. At Perpetual Energy she will be responsible for working on projects across Europe with key clients including retailers, manufacturers, councils, schools, public and commercial enterprises. And TiSUN, the Austrian solar supplier, has appointed Geoff Miller as sales manager for England and Wales.

“When you buy a new car, you get a booklet telling you how it works. When you buy a house you get nothing.” Christian Kornevall, director of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development, speaking at the Energy Event, September 2009. 5

News: Analysis

Part L changes pitch for compliance-friendly outcome Proposed changes to Part L of the Building Regs aim to create a more businesslike approach to the costs of energy efficiency. Karen Fletcher explains art L of the Building Regulations is one of the most significant pieces of legislation affecting the design and construction of buildings. Further challenges are on the horizon, with proposals on the table for a new Part L. The UK government released its proposed changes to Parts L and F of the Building Regulations in June 2009, for a consultation period lasting until September. The current aim is to bring in the new Part L in October 2010. One of the key drivers for introducing a new Part L is that the UK government has set higher targets for energy use and carbon emissions in the domestic and commercial buildings sector. In its July 2007 Policy Statement, Building a Greener Future, the government stated its aim of ensuring all new homes will be net zero carbon by 2016. And in the 2008 Budget, the government announced an ambition that all new non-domestic buildings will be net zero carbon from 2019. A proposed change is that the targets for reducing carbon emissions from non-domestic buildings would no longer be the same for all types of building. Instead, the 25% CO2 reduction target would be ‘aggregate’ – some buildings will need to exceed this target, others will have to achieve lower levels. This means that the reduction required by law would depend on the type of building. The thinking is that different types of building use energy in different ways – which can affect how easy it is to

As an Approved Ecodan Installer, you can offer your customers a revolutionary, low carbon alternative to traditional domestic hot water systems. Benefits include: Reduced running costs, Easy to install package system Single phase power supply, Operates via standard heating controls Helps you to comply with The Code for Sustainable Homes



reduce emissions. For example, an air conditioned office with high solar gains and heat loads from computers can be expected to improve its energy performance with relatively low-cost strategies. The target carbon reduction for this type of building could be around 30%. However a hotel which uses most of its energy on space and hot water heating will require higher cost approaches to be made more efficient. The expected carbon reduction could therefore be nearer to 15%. Linking emissions reduction to the cost of achieving it is a new approach, and one which injects more business thinking into achieving low carbon buildings - cost is often a barrier to sustainability. A new version of the SBEM software will include cost-benefit analysis tables. In order to help enforce the new regulations, it is proposed that a copy of

Part L: a bluffer’s guide A 25% aggregate reduction in CO2 emissions for all buildings compared with 2006 levels. Compliance software to list key methods for a building to meet its energy performance target along with a cost-benefit analysis. All design submissions to be accompanied with a specification. Designers to submit a commissioning plan at the outset. A revised limit on solar gains for non-domestic buildings. A fuel-based target emission rate to help improve energy efficiency, not just achieve carbon reduction. Emissions from electric heating systems will be capped at the same rate as oil heating. SAP calculations will be improved by moving from an annual to a monthly calculation system and by including updated weather data. 6

the design specification is handed over with all design-stage submissions to Building Control. At the same time, designers will also have to submit commissioning plans. Commissioning is often the poor relation of the construction process, with time for testing of systems before occupation often cut back. The new emphasis on commissioning reflects a view that buildings should perform as designed. Domestic buildings will also be affected by the proposed changes. The 2010 target for carbon dioxide reductions from new homes will also be a 25% aggregate. The way in which the energy efficiency of homes is calculated (SAP) will be based on a monthly energy calculation rather than annual, to improve accuracy. Targets on carbon reduction for new homes are set through the Code for Sustainable Homes, which will continue to push housebuilders to the government’s zero carbon goal. While Part L does not deal directly with the use of microgeneration and renewables, these technologies will be vital in the drive to reduce carbon emissions from the UK’s building stock. The changes proposed for introduction in 2010 will not be the last: further targets on reducing carbon emissions will be set and introduced in 2013 and 2016.

News: Profile

Pump up the volume Heat pumps must overcome consumer scepticism, says Donald Daw, Mitsubishi Electric’s commercial director, because the market is ripe for new solutions

“Two years ago people hadn’t heard of heat pumps,” sighs Donald Daw, addressing a roomful of business journalists. “First they questioned the technology, then whether they could work in the UK. We’ve answered all the questions; now we’re ready to go to the next stage.” What this next stage looks like remains up for grabs, but Daw and Mitsubishi Electric are convinced the energy market is now ready to embrace low carbon heat pumps. An estimated 3,000 air source heat pumps (ashps) were sold in the UK last year, in September Daw confirmed an order for

have been recruited as Approved Ecodan Installers, with 1,500 people attending training. “The main problem is laying on enough courses. We want to maintain the quality – it is our name on the box, our brand reputation at stake.” That said, Daw acknowledges he has to look beyond the Ecodan brand. The company has to play a part in marketing the heat pump sector as a whole, particular the social acceptance of heat pumps. “We need enthusiastic adoption from homeowners, not forced,” he states. “Unfortunately, ashps look like a/c units

We’d like to get to a situation where ashps are seen as a badge of environmental goodness, like a solar panel 1,200 from just one customer alone. Heat pumps, he says, are ready to go from “cottage industry to mainstream”. The tipping point came earlier this year when the EU accepted heat pumps as a legitimate renewable heating technology; Mitsubishi’s Microgeneration Scheme-accredited Ecodan is eligible for a £900 installation grant. Cutting carbon, reducing fuel poverty and rising oil and gas prices will be the sector’s main drivers. Daw is targeting the 1.6 million heating systems replaced in the UK every year, particularly the slice of the 4.6m off-gasgrid homes. He says the company is in position to step up production. Three thousand units will be made at the Livingston factory this year, with output quickly scalable to 30,000. To date, over 400 plumbing and installation companies

– which have social pariah status. We’d like to get to a situation where ashps are seen as a badge of environmental goodness, like a solar panel.” Working more closely with architects and installers may help produce solutions – certainly the specifying of ashps at an early stage will help, but we consumers may just have to accept that

in the future “our houses will have to look a little different”. Historical concerns about heat pumps’ noise and vibration also need overcoming. “We’re now on the third generation of ashp and the difference from the early days is huge.” The unit running in Livingstone’s £1.6m acoustic test centre sounded no louder than a desktop fan. Temperature is another worry. There is always a concern when a company says its target market needs educating. Daw can prove his product works – producing 45° water on outside temperatures of -15°, but the market is used to 70-80°. “Do you need 70-80°? Probably not, but that’s what the market is used to. We need to change the understanding; the lower the temperature, the better the efficiency. We shouldn’t be encouraging high temperatures, we should be encouraging efficiency. Low thermal insulation homes may benefit from high temperatures, but they’d be better off with better insulation.” Daw makes a strong argument, but it would have sounded a whole lot more convincing had the room we were sat not been chilly. For Daw, and Ecodan, the challenge is beyond creating more hot air.

Inside an Ecodan: The ‘dan’ in Ecodan means ‘heating’ in Japanese. It takes three hours to make one Ecodan unit. The Livingston factory is ISO14001 – the highest level of environmental certification; when each shift goes for a tea break, the lights go out. There are 420 staff employed at Livingston, around 25 are Japanese. The standard colour of an Ecodan unit is beige; in Sweden, one of the biggest European markets, houses are painted a pale colour. Most UK houses are not beige. Daw has an Ecodan unit in his home, set at what he describes as a ‘comfortable’ 21°. 9


“This kind of project is not an Ikea flatpack. It was never going to be simple.” Simon Clayton of the Torrs Hydro on the challenges facing new water power projects, p12

Production delays can’t dampen rush to micro-wind Next year’s feed-in tariff is already causing queues, says Ben Cosh t doesn’t matter how much hot air the government creates they still can not make London, or any other urban environment good for wind turbines – even those with a vertical axis. The requirement for a turbine to have clear, non- turbulent air cannot be changed by regulation. For clients who think they have a strong wind resource of over 5m/s, more detailed wind assessment is key. Feed-in tariffs provide an income up to 33p/kwh (based on off-setting electricity they would have bought) so there are now solid investment opportunities and opportunities for affiliates and installers. We’ve analysed many different turbines and do not offer turbines less than 6kw as the returns for our clients have not been proved to merit the investment – especially when you take maintenance into account. With the feed-in tariff level returns set to peak at the top of the micro-wind band, we are seeing clients who were originally looking into 6kw and


10kw machines, upgrading to gain the improved returns at 50kw where they can make up to 200,000kWh pa. With 20 years of guaranteed income and protection from energy increases if they use the energy onsite, then this opportunity will not be around for long and many clients are placing their orders now to guarantee their place in the supply chain – even before they receive planning. In all areas of green opportunities you still have to deal with the planners – with even the smallest turbine requiring a mountain of paperwork. There is currently much NIMBYism across the country towards the large MW wind installations. The advantage of micro-wind is that they can blend into the landscape. If your client can see

Ben Cosh is managing director of the Green Company.

Steve Pester, BRE consultant, outlines the current position of the scheme


Product quality assured BRE also certificates the products used, demonstrating a unified approach to raising and maintaining the industry standards in microgeneration. There are currently over 70 MCS approved products including ground source and air source heat pumps and photovoltaics. Consequently, MCS is making a real difference to the quality of small renewable energy systems being installed in the UK, whilst the scheme continues to be

observed from abroad because of its pioneering methods and effectiveness. International success for the scheme is expected shortly, following the introduction of the feed-in-tariffs due early next year. For more information on BRE MCS certification, please see For general enquiries concerning standards or the running of the scheme, please contact the MCS administrator at



Cease the slightest opportunity to promote renewables

a large wind turbine, this is a good sign – there must be a wind resource and also planning has been obtained. As we mention to our clients – if your neighbour was drilling for oil then so would you.

Many clients are placing their orders now to guarantee their place in the supply chain

and a useful base on which to build a larger business.

Anja Katz Viessmann


Do the right thing

In all areas of green opportunities you still have to deal with the planners

Numbers increase on MCS The Microgeneration Certification Scheme for installers is going from strength to strength at BRE; 320 installers have now been certificated and another 180 are currently going through the process. The assessment procedure can be quite intense and at times challenging, but as a result, installers are able to write clear and precise operating methods that lead to a consistently high standard of work. Addition to this, MCS encourages good business practise which many small companies have found helpful



REI: How significant is the ‘Made in Germany’ label in the renewables market? AK: “The fact we’re a German manufacturer means we have a lot of experience in renewable energy. Viessmann was producing solar thermal panels for its domestic market in the 1970s. If you go to Germany today you’ll find one or two of the original systems still in use.” REI: The company’s background is in solar, but you’re now offering a range of renewable energy options. AK: “We’ll all have to use a mix of technologies to achieve a reduction in our collective carbon footprint. Today, we still need fossil fuels but we have to use them as efficiently as possible.” REI: How is Viessmann cutting its own carbon footprint? AK: “We started rebuilding our Allendorf factory in 2001 and this has cut carbon emissions by 40 per cent. Being more energy efficient is a challenge for us all and we wanted to prove that it could be done in practice; that the technology really does work.” Anja Katz is Viessmann’s academy and customer communication director.

This weekend my children found a damson tree behind our house, filled bags with its fruit and came home and made so much jam, I’m thinking of supplying Sainsburys. Somebody asked me how we could be bothered because jam’s not that expensive and we probably don’t eat that much anyway. True, jam isn’t that expensive. But that’s not the point. It isn’t about the cost - it’s the fact that, as my little boy said, “it’s a good a thing to do.” This is where the installer comes in – because there are many people out there also looking for a good thing to do. As we head out of summer towards Halloween, Bonfire night and of course, Christmas, we start to turn up our thermostats and think nothing of flicking on the heating the minute we feel a chill. We begin to think about our fuel bills when we’ve given them scant regard throughout the summer months. There are many households who crave carbon savings. In the current climate, the installer may have a task persuading them to spend big money but as an educator - the link between the general public and renewables –

you are the ideal voice to offer solutions to those seeking energy alternatives. Some may baulk at the price of a solar thermal system or smart at the thought of rippingout a perfectly good and recently installed heating system to replace it with a renewable one. So seize on their initial interest and offer them something to can

Energy Capture Introducing our NEW Solar Thermal Range.

there are many households who crave carbon savings

Our bespoke Solar Thermal/Hot Water packages offer the perfect solution to building owners who wish to reduce their carbon footprint without compromising the hot water supply. And of course, we also offer high efficiency Condensing Water Heaters and Boilers.

supplement their existing system – a woodburning stove, for example, which will help reduce their overall energy bill and make them feel they are contributing something worthwhile. We all know installers have being doing good things for years. So, wherever the smallest opportunity lies with your customers, allow them to feel they are doing something good too.

you are the ideal voice to offer solutions to those seeking energy alternatives

For details, call us on

+ 44 (0)1295 269981 email or visit

Lochinvar Ltd 7 Lombard Way The MXL Centre Banbury Oxon OX16 4TJ


Image by Simon Clayton. Copyright © Peak Digital Limited 2009

Knowledge: Hydro

A river runs through it A combination of community push and utility company pull is powering the market for hydro projects. Peter Barton visits two different schemes

ater Power Enterprises says it has conducted feasibility studies on 120 potential hydro sites throughout Britain, mostly in the north of England. If there was a typical site, says managing director Steve Welsh, it would look very much like the convergence of the rivers Sett and Goyt in New Mills. Which is helpful because, to date, New Mills is the only one of the 120 sites with a working hydro generator. Torrs Hydro celebrated its first anniversary in September, generating a maximum rated output of 63kW and working towards a target of £20,000 in annual revenues. Simon Clayton (pictured next page), member of the Torrs Hydro board of directors, says the last 12 months have provided invaluable lessons: “This kind of project is not an Ikea flatpack. It was never going to be simple.”



These lessons will be crucial as Water Power Enterprises (H2ope) seeks to roll-out six hydro projects a year from 2011, and utility companies consider hydro projects of their own as government renewables targets start to bite. The biggest headaches, says Clayton, have been extracting silt build-up, sound proofing, health & safety, improved automation and installing vandalism measures. The latter has already added £5,000 to the project’s £250,000 costs. Sound-proofing may be costlier still. The project was given permission on the understanding it wouldn’t bust ambient noise levels. It has since found that running below 18kW causes water to slap noisily against the back wall of the tail pond, back into the Archimedes screw. ‘Archie’ now has to be switched off at night and at weekends if the power drops. With the river still

running, and revenues being missed, this is not ideal. Clayton is studying German schemes, and speaking to the turbine’s German manufacturer, to look at ways of altering the control settings, switching to variable rather than fixed speeds. The biggest gripe, though, has been the lack of clarity over available grants. Torrs Hydro produces 63kW, if it had been pegged at 50kW it would have qualified for double ROCs. Steve Welsh at H2ope describes this as “a bit of a bugger” and says it is hardly worth bothering with schemes between 5080kW. Upcoming schemes in Settle and Stockport will run at 50kW. “We need some stability in terms of regulations,” says Clayton. “Unfortunately, regulations seem to change every year. Maybe we’d have made the scheme smaller if we known we’d be denied grants. Long term

clarity is needed, like Germany.” This is not simply grant related, he adds, bank loans and private finance will be a lot easier to source with clearer guidelines. H2ope and Torrs Hydro spent some time finding the right vehicle to manage the project,

This kind of project is not an Ikea flatpack. It was never going to be simple balancing the need to attract finance with community shareholding. The project is classed as an Industrial Provident Society for the Benefit of the Community, a rather

wordy title but one that enabled the board to raise loans and manage a FSA-regulated share offering. H2ope reckons this alone saved it £30,000 in solicitors’ fees. And it has been a community success: around half of the 200 or so shareholders come from within the local postcode, two thirds live within 15 miles. Since the initial feasibility studies, Welsh says H2ope has hosted 58 community groups looking at launching their own hydro scheme. Clayton and the team at Torrs Hydro are doing their bit to spread the word: speaking at events, arranging school visits, putting on monthly open days and providing a case study for the Department of Energy & Climate Change. Local artists have created artwork from flotsam retrieved from the river. The learnings from the last year are being compiled as a handbook for future community projects. >

Torrs Hydro: Finances, at a glance The initial cost of the Torrs Hydro was estimated to be £226,000. Grants and loans were obtained for £100,000, with a little under £100,000 raised via a community share offering (200 shareholders, with shares at £250 each). The shortfall was made by additional grant funding and a small loan from the Co-operative Bank. The Co-op also agreed to take the hydro feed to power its local store and paid for a £30,000, 200 metre, 415v power line to connect the turbine to the grid.


Easi-Dec ‘Solar-Dec’

Knowledge: Hydro

telescopic working platform and hoist

> One hundred miles away, a very different motivation is powering the demand for new hydro. Severn Trent is considering four projects on its land around Lake Vyrnwy in remote Powys. Each will be economically viable, but may take as long as nine years to pay back costs; this long term view is part of Severn Trent’s ambition to double its use of renewable sources by 2013. Having undertaken the initial feasibility studies, Bromsgrovebased Adroit is costing up the plans. Project engineer Jim Partridge says he expects a green light in the next financial year, with construction times between eight and 12 weeks. The work is likely to cost in excess of £1.5m. The Eiddew Waterfall, with a 240kW generator, is expected to cost £750,000 with an annual income of £87,500 meaning a payback schedule of 8.4 years. Quarry Pool, costing £140,000 should be paid back within five years. Partridge says two schemes were mixed, one of which required 11 years payback.

He suggests such long term projects may soon become viable. For Adroit, with its background in the construction sector, it is the chance to prove the company is capable of fulfilling complex renewables schemes from feasibility to contract completion. “And there is a lot of hydro potential out there,â€? says Partridge. “British Waterways is looking to generate 210,000mW/year and will invest ÂŁ120m in the next three years, the Forestry Commission in Scotland is

tendering for three run-of-river projects, and you have sites in Yorkshire and Cornwall, plus old watermills. And I’ve not yet heard of anything out of the Lake District.� The requirements of the utilities companies should also open up opportunities further down the market. A trickle down effect, if you will. Partridge has also picked up a couple of pieces of domestic business in the Lake Vyrnwy area after meeting in the pub.

British Waterways is looking to generate 210,000mW/year and will invest ÂŁ120m in the next three years



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With the UK Safety Authorities applying more pressure upon Contractors to work (and lift) more safely at height, and the Solar Generation market gathering speed, the demand for our Solar Panel Lifting Access Platform has increased dramatically over the last few months. The Easi-Dec ‘Solar-Dec’ is a combination of telescopic working platform and hoist that only takes the user 10 minutes to erect and can be relocated without the need to dismantle. Patented

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Knowledge: Case Studies

Knowledge: Case Studies


Colt International has been delivering indoor environmental solutions for over 70 years. With clients demanding reliable solutions and reduced carbon emissions, the company developed a hybrid system that delivers cooling and heating along with excellent environmental credentials. The product links the Colt Water and Refrigerant Flow (WRF) air conditioning system, Caloris, with ground source and air source heat pump technology. The system was developed in partnership with

ground source experts Geothermal International. Caloris uses water instead of a refrigerant as its main energy transfer medium while the air source heat pumps generate the required heat energy. This joint system combines the two heat sources (air and water) into a common system, which runs them together at times of peak load and switches between the two, automatically selecting the most efficient heat source depending on the air and ground temperature. Power consumption is minimised

because they make the most efficient use of the energy available. Colt has already successfully applied the technology at a number of sites, including the Hatchcroft building, a multimillion pound teaching and research facility for Middlesex University. The building, which has a capacity of 1,100 staff and students, has been designed to be both adaptable and sustainable, accommodating laboratories for biomedical teaching and research, along with classrooms and associated facilities. Built in place of six, now demolished, buildings, the new development has achieved a 12% reduction in CO2 emissions. Colt Caloris linked to GSHP was chosen as an energy efficient solution to assist in this reduction, as well as generally contributing to the University's ambition of achieving an ‘excellent’ BREEAM rating. Throughout the building, 59 Caloris indoor units have been

Landlord Chris Hill had C21e solar electric roof tiles installed on his rental property in Barnes, south west London, investing a total of £13,545. The C21e tiles replace normal roofing tiles, generating free and green electricity without altering the roof line of the house. Commenting on his decision to use solar photovoltaic technology, Hill says: “Reducing my carbon footprint is very important to me. I needed to re-

roof the house, and it made sense to use solar roof tiles as opposed to regular tiles. The tiles from Solarcentury are wellintegrated, and seemed more efficient than other solar panels.” He added: “Secondary to this was ‘future proofing’ the house against rising fuel prices, making it cost less to live in and hence more attractive to tenants. I would recommend it to others looking to improve the appeal of their properties as solar tiles have proved a simple, cost-effective and innovative way to improve a home.” The system used on the Barnes property is 1.66 kWp in size, which means it can generate up to 1,411 kWh per year. According to the Energy Savings Trust, the average household consumes around 4,000 kWh per year, so even a small system like this can cut consumption from the grid and therefore utility bills, by almost 30%. After 18 months of operation, the home had generated a total of 2,171 kWh. The tenants can sell their electricity back to the grid at between 15 and 20

pence per unit depending on their supplier. Hill can also claim over £100 a year in Renewable Obligation Certificates (known as ROCs). Tenants of the property have also benefited from the use of renewable technologies. Bex Cooper and her partner Ian Thurston were already living in Hill’s property when the tiles were installed. They say that they were always conscious of their energy consumption, and wanted to “use as little as possible for both planet and purse.” Even taking into account the couple’s already environmentally-responsible lifestyle, Thurston says they have seen a big drop in their energy bills and are receiving cheques from their electricity supplier for the energy they generate. Cooper adds: “I think everyone should have a solar function on their roof because it will always be useful at some point. It’s great to renting a property that you feel proud of and that doesn’t guzzle electricity from the grid. The

What: Hybrid heating & cooling solution for new, Middlesex University building How: Fifty nine a/c units combined with GSHP – including fifty five 60m boreholes over 1,400m2 with 32mm coil. Result: A 12 per cent reduction in CO2 emissions, contribution towards ‘excellent’ BREEAM rating. Produces up to 235kW gross peak heating load and 190 kW net peak cooling.


What: Future proofing energy requirements of a terraced house as part of a re-roofing job. How: 1.66kW panel of solar electric tiles to replace standard roof tiles; one day installation. Result: The property generated 2,171kW in its first 18 months; owner claimed £100 in ROCs; neighbour took more than a year to notice the tiles has changed.


installed connected to a vertical, closed loop borehole, GSHP system. Taking up an area of approximately 1,400m², 55 boreholes have been drilled to an approximate depth of 60m, accommodating the GSHP's 32mm coil arrangement. The resultant HVAC solution can provide a

capacity of up to 235 kW gross peak heating load and 190 kW net peak cooling load. The hybrid approach offers a number of benefits for designers and end-users. Installation costs are lower than those for a system based on GSHP alone, and the dual system is more energy efficient than using ASHP on its own. In addition, the use of water as

saves on capital outlay and time in design and installation. Colt International marketing manager Darren Civil says: “This is the first fully cohesive source-to-delivery solution that combines air and ground source heat pump technology to run an HVAC system. The interface between the two technologies is seamless.”

house had been solar for over a year before our neighbour noticed our tiles were slightly different from the rest of the street! She had no idea that we produce our own energy.” A small portable meter, which is supplied with the system, informs the end-user exactly how much energy their system is producing. The meter provides a useful visual reminder to minimise energy use. A C21e system of this size can save up to 802kg of carbon dioxide from entering the atmosphere every year. Solarcentury’s C21e solar tiles are designed and built in the UK and were installed by Solarcentury’s associate installer, Solstice Energy from London, in just one day. Richard Warren from Solstice

Energy says: “We are always very happy to work with C21 because of its simplicity. It is hardly more difficult than laying an ordinary tile. This means that the roofers don’t need specialist training and can work alongside us to speed up the whole process. The confidence we have in C21 as a quick, simple and attractive PV solution means that we can pass on labour savings to the customer.” Solstice Energy is part of a nationwide network of installers which are trained and accredited by Solarcentury to install the C21e tiles. Homeowners are entitled to a grant of £2,500 from the Government’s Low Carbon Buildings Programme.

refrigerant eliminates the need for costly leak detection systems in each space and regular pipe inspections as required by F-gas regulations. For designers and contractors, an additional benefit is that they can procure the system as a total package from a single source which

The use of water as refrigerant eliminates the need for costly leak detection systems


What: Conversion of 25 properties from oil to cooking oil blended with kerosene How: Switch from 64kW condensing boiler to run on 30% cooking oil, 70% kerosense, changing just a few components Result: The year-long trail runs until April 2010, but hope is that 1.9m households running on oil will have low cost option to switch to renewables, estimated to be between £300 and £2,000.

Hackford Hall is one of 25 properties in the picturesque Norfolk town of Reepham which have been converted to run on liquid biofuel. The owners are taking part in a year long trial which replaces traditional heating oil with a blend of used cooking oil blended with kerosene. At the Hall, a 64kW condensing boiler has been switched over to run on biofuel by changing just a couple of components including the oil filter and fuel pump. Because biofuel is slightly more aggressive than kerosene, it’s only components which contain rubber that need changing. The trial is part of a partnership between the University of East Anglia’s Low Carbon Innovation Centre, Norfolk County Council, local entrepreneur Andrew Robertson of Clean Energy Consultancy, and the two

bodies that represent the oil heating industry in the UK and Ireland - the Oil Firing Technical Association (OFTEC) and the Industrial Commercial Energy Association (ICOM). Combustion results from the field trials have been extremely encouraging to date, and there have been no issues with fuel storage. The project has also been well supported by many OFTEC manufacturing members who are conducting their own field trials alongside this project. Having a liquid biofuel that is interchangeable with domestic heating oil means that around 1.9 million households in the UK and Ireland will be able to use renewable technology to heat their homes and businesses. OFTEC hopes that converting to biofuel will mean very few modifications to existing heating systems, and therefore very low capital cost.

It is hardly more difficult than laying an ordinary tile. This means that the roofers don’t need specialist training and can work alongside us to speed up the whole process 17

Knowledge: Products

Knowledge: Products SOLAR ROUND-UP

This issue: Additions to the biomass market, cylinder options, low carbon training, power predictors, and a full round-up of the solar sector Tight fit Klober’s solar outlet provides a neat, rain-tight solution for flexible pipes and photovoltaic cables being passed through tile vents. It uses an injection moulded, UV-resistant, fireretardant EPDM collar which can be cut to provide apertures between 10-70mm. Services are then simply pushed through to the panel. The product can be used at any pitch with most profiled concrete and clay tiles as well as slates and metal roofs. It is available in terracotta red, dark brown, anthracite, light brown, black and slate grey. To ensure an airtight construction, Klober also offers an underlay seal. Call 01509 500660

Solar options Firebird has launched its Envirosol range of solar hot water heating systems. Billed as “competitively priced”, the Firebird Envirosol solar system will be available in kit form for both flat panel and vacuum tube. Kits consists of two or three panels, a pumping station, system controller, expansion vessel, air vent, 3-way mixing valve and a special anti-freeze solar fluid. “We wanted to make sure our systems met the needs and expectations of our customers and the UK climate,” says Barry Brynildsen, Firebird. “For that reason we’re offering flat panel and vacuum tube systems which make us one of the few national suppliers to sell both types.”


Energy at the heart of the home Around 1.7 million households in the UK don’t use gas. The majority rely on oil-fired systems for hot water and space heating. Rising oil prices and more widely-available alternatives to fossil fuel mean these households are looking for more cost-effective technologies. While air-source and groundsource heat pumps are attracting some interest, particularly in offgrid new-build sites, consumers are also turning to domestic biomass. It is an attractive option for customers used to an oil-fired system. Due to this growing interest, gas boiler manufacturer Vokèra has added to its range of domestic heating and hot water technologies, with the 13kW biomass wood pellet boiler, Neutro. Vokèra marketing director Eleanor Waldron explains: “In the domestic market we have made our name with gas boilers. With

The product is fully supported by the Firebird after sales service and product training courses are available at its Midlands training centre. Contact 01752 691177

See the energy future The Power Predictor from Better Generation measures the amount of solar power and wind energy a home could generate and recommends the most appropriate equipment. It also calculates how long it would take to cover installation costs. The device straps onto a mast or pole (which can be supplied) and a mini wind gauge measures the strength of the surrounding breeze whilst a small receptor works out the potential amount of solar energy. After 30 days, the device uses the data to produce an energy report. Call 0207 738 5800

the growth of the renewables market we invested in solar thermal and also an air source heat pump. Neutro is another addition to our renewables range, launched at the end of 2008. We have had a great deal of interest in it from installers.” Domestic biomass is not a

Energy optimization guide Schneider Electric’s Energy Efficiency Application Guide is full of recommendations and easy steps to help end-users make the most of their energy. As well as product information and specification assistance, the guide recommends complete solutions to help ensure process, lighting and HVAC systems run at optimum efficiency. Schneider Electric’s energy management expert, David Lewis explains: “The guide takes contractors and building managers through four simple steps to reducing energy usage. We also offer a range of automated controls, from timers, impulse relays and presence detection to VSDs and management systems, which help limit energy consumption.” Call 0870 6088608

mass-market product, but it has a lot of potential. “Traditionally, its market would be rural and offmains gas,” Waldron adds. Vokèra offers installer training, at its centre in London Colney and biomass training includes installation, setting up, maintenance, and advising end-users.

Making waves Grant UK’s Wave range of cylinders now includes the upgraded DuoWave twin-coil and the DuoWave Plus triple coil. The products are developed for systems that combine a renewable heat source with a standard oil, gas or electric boiler and are particularly suitable for

Neutro can be retrofitted to replace the oil fuel source, fitting into the system design in the same place as the old boiler and linked to the flow and return. It can also be placed in a kitchen, utility room or take a more central place in the home as well. “We have designed Neutro to provide an attractive living flame, with a glass front and the unit itself radiates 3kW of heat during activity. It has airtight chamber operation so fumes are expelled through the exhaust, and it’s odourless. Being quiet in operation, it can go into the living room on a brick fireplace if the customer wishes,” says Waldron. The Neutro hopper has a capacity of 28kg of pellets; these burn at a rate of 1kg to 3kg per hour meaning a full hopper can give between 9 and 28 hours of burning. Call 0844 3910999

use with solar hot water systems. When correctly matched and installed, this arrangement should significantly reduce the dependence on traditional fossil fuels resulting in lower energy bills, says Grant. The range also includes the MonoWave single coil, which uses a high flow rate safety manifold making it ideal for use in multibathroom dwellings. Grant is offering a solar pv starter pack with an on-roof mounting kit for a trade price of £3000. It includes three Grant solar pv modules, an inverter, DC isolater, cables, roof bars and mounting brackets. Call 01380 736920

Hoval offers low carbon training Hoval’s new training centre at the Centre of Renewable Energy (CORE) in Nottinghamshire has been created to provide an advanced training facility for specifiers and installers of low carbon technologies, as well as for end-users. Equipped with fully functional biomass boilers, solar equipment, high efficiency condensing boilers and heat pumps, the Centre provides a combination of handson and classroom learning. Training modules include full commissioning, servicing, fault finding and systems training. One day courses on TopTronic control systems and UltraGas condensing boilers are available in September, October and November 2009. The centre at CORE represents a joint investment by Hoval and biomass fuel supplier Strawsons Energy, aided by a grant from the East Midlands Development Agency. As well as the heating products supplied by Hoval, the building incorporates photovoltaics and a wind turbine and aims to produce surplus heating, cooling and power that can be used in the wider community. Call 01636 672711 Visit

The Filsol solar water heating collector uses a high efficiency stainless steel absorber plate. It has been designed to be reliable and long lasting. Key features include a stylish modular design with a high energy conversion efficiency and durability for the UK climate. The system comes in a range of sizes and is available for on-roof, in-roof and frame mounted installations. In addition, it has been tested to BS EN 12975 and is accredited under the Low Carbon Buildings Programme. According to Genersys, the 1000-10 solar thermal collector stamped from a single sheet of aluminium - is remarkably strong and weld-free. It carries 20 year warranty and a life expectancy of more than 35 years. Genersys says that joining its Installer Network offers technical support, leads for your area, plus sales help is always on hand. Call 0207 6379708 Grant’s solar thermal range includes DuoWave twin-coil unvented cylinders, multifunctional controller with LCD display and two alternative styles of collector - Sahara and Aurora - which incorporate specially-developed, 4mm, lowiron glass that maximises solar absorption and minimises reflection by up to 95%. There are various mounting arrangements for the collectors, including on-roof, in-roof and flat roof kits, both landscape and portrait, so siting should be straightforward, whatever the situation. Call 01380 736920

Thermomax vacuum tube solar collectors are part of a complete solar package from Kingspan Solar. They have been designed for northern European climates and are 30% more effective than traditional flat plate panels as they allow energy from the sun to be captured efficiently and effectively, says Kingspan. The vacuum inside each tube provides insulation and suppresses heat loss by protecting the system from outside influences, which results in optimum performance levels all year round. Fast and simple to install due to ‘plug and play’ design, Thermomax can be installed on sloping and flat roofs or façades. Call 02838 364500 Hoval’s SolKit is a complete solar thermal system, including controls, for domestic hot water (DHW) featuring a flexible umbilical (15, 20 or 25m) carrying flow and return pipes and a sensor cable for installation in one day. SolKit uses Hoval’s LowFlow technology to achieve high solar fluid temperatures with minimal pumping energy and directs high temperature fluid to the top of the cylinder whenever possible; giving solar heated DHW at the taps without charging the whole cylinder. Call 01636 672711 Worcester Greenskies solar panels use the power in both direct and diffused sunlight, converting the energy into heat, to produce hot water for the home. A well-sized solar panel system should provide around 50-70% of the hot water requirements of a home. The solar panels are designed to complement existing heating systems that use a cylinder to store hot water. Worcester provides a range of panels to suit different applications, including portrait and landscape dimensions and both in and onroof models. Call 08457 256206


“No week is complete without a row with a planning officer.” Andy & Susan Carr of Sky Flair talk us through a typical installer week, p22

Knowledge: Training

Knowledge: Insurance


Solfex gears up for extra training Preston-based solar thermal specialist, Solfex is extending its installer training programme through October 2009 Managing director, Stuart Cooper says the UK market is set to see significant growth in demand and extra training is vital to prepare installers for an upturn: “Commercial solar thermal systems are widespread across Germany and Austria and many other European countries. Here in the UK, planning regulations will result in greater demand for solar thermal in commercial projects.” The new course for the commercial solar thermal market is aimed at installers who are fully trained heating and plumbing engineers with experience of the commercial sector. They should also have good electronics knowledge. “We want these installers to be able to carry out high quality work, so that our products operate at their maximum efficiency,” says Cooper, pictured. The course will last two days, with a third day for assessment. The content will be comprehensive, covering issues from assessing building

suitability to commissioning and maintenance. It will also include training on the latest solar thermal technologies including the Stratified Layering Model (SLM) and fresh water station (FWM). Cooper says that the ultimate aim is to gain accreditation from UKAS-accredited certification

projects. Solar thermal is now a mass market.” Cooper says training installers has been an important part of Solfex strategy for a number of years. At the beginning of 2009 the company opened a training centre, and since then it has seen over 100 installers take the specialist domestic installation

There is definitely going to be a market for commercial solar thermal

Mention the word renewables and insurance companies shy away. But proper cover is vital if you want MCS approval. Liz Boardman reports body, Logic, and make this a nationally available course for installers looking to take advantage of the new opportunities. “There is definitely going to be a market for commercial solar thermal. We are already seeing interest in largescale solar thermal systems, and for use in hospital and school

courses. “We only work with accredited installers,” explains Cooper. “Someone who is a registered gas installer already has a good knowledge of heating systems, so it is a question of upskilling,” he adds. Call 01772 312847 Visit:


Professional updates: The business case Finding the right technology for an installation is important. Nu-Heat’s course covers the principals and suitability of the technologies and offers in-depth explanation on the different models available. Sessions also cover the advantages of each system, health and safety, environmental benefits, domestic hot water requirements, appropriate sizing, troubleshooting, commissioning and government grant funding. Providing the right advice is important as consumers are often unaware of the technical issues involved with microgeneration systems. Nu-Heat’s courses arm the installer with the necessary skills to do this. “It is intense and very thorough,


Hard headed cover

which is exactly how they need to be as it’s highly likely that installers will be asked to integrate more than one energy-saving technology into a property,” says Delaney. The courses are delivered by tutors with industry experience. “They discuss real, practical installation solutions and the course material provided acts as excellent reference material during and after the course,’ he adds. The structure of the NICEIC training is formal and includes exams and practical assessments. Completed assessments are forwarded to NICEIC for final approval and installers get the results in about five weeks. Attending this course has made a huge difference to Delaney: “There are three main

advantages – credibility, confidence and the creation of additional marketing opportunities. Since attending we have actively marketed ourselves as professional renewables installers and our company has grown as a direct result of this – no mean feat in a tough market.” Guy Metcalfe, Nu-Heat’s training manager, comments: “Some installers have told me that they are earning, on average, an additional twenty per cent per day on top of normal earnings thanks to offering these specialist services.”

Call 0800 731 1976 Visit

or many installers, finding insurance poses no problem. Ray Brooks of Reliable Plumbing, Newcastleupon-Tyne, has a different story. Brooks provides plumbing and electrical services, as well being an accredited solar pv installer. “I found it extremely difficult to find an insurance company that was prepared to cover solar pv work,” he states. “This year, when I went to renew my policy I had to change insurers as my old one wouldn’t cover me for solar pv installations.” He eventually took out public liability insurance with Simply Business. Emma Quy, the company’s head underwriter says: “Solar panel installation, geothermal heating and domestic wind turbines installations bring with them very specific risks to the people working in this sector. Simply Business has a range of insurance packages designed to protect them and their customer. This includes working at height, errors in design or specification or loss or damage to the specialist equipment being used on site.” One other option is NFU Mutual. The company’s corporate communications executive Tim Price says: "NFU Mutual doesn't have specific policies for renewable installers but can often


provide the cover they need from its range of business policies." There are some things an installer can do to help the process, as Andrew Carrington, director of Solar Logic, points out. “To get insurance, installers ideally need to have a health and safety policy, risk assessments and method statements for each technology covered.” Alongside the standard difficulties, some installers have additional complaints. Chris Verney, owner of Barum Solar Heat believes that “installers are a target for insurance companies. The criteria for insurance is

If you do heat work, the price goes up, if you work at height, the price goes up. The list goes on extensive. If you do heat work, the price goes up, if you work at height, the price goes up. The list goes on.” Verney, who is insured by NFU Mutual explains: “I carried out a solar thermal installation at Brixton tube station earlier this year and my insurance premium quadrupled. Unfortunately, as premiums are paid annually, you

can’t change your cover on a job by job basis. If things change throughout the year, you can’t drop the level of insurance accordingly and often it is impossible to predict which jobs are going to come up.” A better solution, says Verney, would be to pay for a basic level of insurance and then add on extras as the year unfolds.

Take 4: What you’ll need to get covered Public liability – covers your legal liability to pay damages, including claimant’s costs, fees and expenses, arising from your negligence which has caused injury to the public or damage to their property. Minimum indemnity limit is £1 million. Whilst not a legal requirement, cover is essential in today’s ‘litigation society. Employers’ liability – covers any liability at law for damages, costs and expenses arising out of injury to an employee during and in the

course of their employment within the business. Usually the policy has a fixed indemnity limit of £5 million and there should not be any excess. Employers’ liability is required by law. Professional indemnity – covers the company’s liability at law for damages and claimant’s costs and expenses arising out of the conduct of the business by a client, as a direct result of negligence or breach of conduct or any error or omission,

breach of conduct and includes liable slander, defamation or breach of copyright or confidentiality. Product liability – covers the liability at law for injury or damage caused by the sale or supply of a product. It does not cover products which are ‘not fit for purpose’ or subject to product recall.


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My Working Week Why exhibit at GeoDrilling 2010?

Farming shows & planning rows Saturday: Off to exhibit at the Poynton Agricultural Show with a 7.30am set up. It’s a farming show for the south Manchester area and we’ve known about it for years. They have cattle, poultry, various farms products - and a trade area. It’s the second year we’ve been. We’re looking at different ways of promoting ourselves, and this sort of show allows us to demonstrate renewable products to a local audience. We handed out nearly 600 flyers and windmills for the kids (the children want a windmill and we ‘capture’ the parents!) as well as signing up people for free, no obligation home surveys. Last year we were the only company listed as ‘renewable’, this year we were one of three. We may look at doing the Cheshire Show and the RHS event at Tatton next year, or maybe niche events like classic car shows.

Who: The husband and wife team of Andy and Susan Carr founders of Sky Flair What: Specialist renewables installer working out of a suburban home in Manchester. The company was formed in September 2007; after the couple grew frustrated with over-priced quotes on alternative energy options they decided to set up their own business. Sky Flair is now a member of Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce, is part of the renewables forum at University of Central Lancashire, and a regular commentator on BBC Radio Manchester. 22

Monday: We’ll start the week by trawling the internet looking for the latest planning requests. We draw up a list of those that might be worth contacting, do some research and prepare introductory letters. We average 200-300 letters a week. How do we choose? Postcodes, mainly. You know certain local authorities are ruthless in insisting on renewables. Also, an application for a £2m-3m property in Knutsford or Alderley Edge (wealthy Cheshire commuter towns) is bound to include some form of renewable. Those to avoid? Ones with several registered objections; if a proposal has had 17 objections against it you know renewables will struggle to pass. Avoid like the plague. We try to make sure each letter shows how we can add value to the project – these are never just bog standard mail shots. Our best advice? Use great, off-white paper and hand write every envelope. Tuesday: There is no such thing as a typical day, but we try and fit in two or three surveys every day

to both residential and commercial customers. These will take 30-45 minutes each, and have involved travelling as far as Stoke, Sheffield or Cumbria. We have a check list of technical questions, but it’s just as important to see the customer face to face; to learn how they use the property and what they expect to gain from the products. Wednesday: No week is complete without a row with a planning officer. Some are okay – Manchester isn’t too bad, but others are a nightmare. I’ll write to some and pray they don’t call back because it will only end up in a row. There are a few doublebarrelled Southern ones that can be a pain. The fact is we still have to make the case for renewables and planning departments and the renewables sector don’t always have the same objectives. There may be a request for planning permission which requires renewables but the planning department statement is that ‘placing panels on the south facing roof will spoil the view from the road so you can’t put them there’. How do you square that circle? Friday: A large part of the job is ongoing research. We are not plumbers doing a little bit of renewable; this is our core business, not an add-on. We’ll investigate things some companies will run from. In any given week we may be asked to source extra-narrow solar panels or explain the benefits of a horizontal tank versus vertical. We may look at the latest wind turbine research from Chicago University or produce the specs for a bespoke domestic energy job. This week we’ve been invited to look at a new grey and black water harvesting system, and how we might use it. And then there are the crank calls: an ex-colleague called to ask whether we could install solar PV panels on his car, my response was rather coarse but it did bring a smile to my face.




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Renewable Energy Installer  

Editorial relaunch & redesign for a b2b title aimed at renewable sector. Worked with Bolton agency, D-Room.