Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Measures Make Positive Environmental Impacts
With rising energy costs and growing demand for sustainable alternatives to coal and nuclear power, governments, businesses and individuals are looking to renewable energy and energy efficiency for a solution. Incentives in a number of countries have helped drive the implementation and advancement of renewable energy technologies as well as energy conservation measures.
Here in the U.S., federal tax credits of up to 30% of cost for renewable energy systems substantially reduce the tax liability of system owners and encourage investment. In the United Kingdom, a feed in tariff program has been implemented to increase the return on investment of renewable energy measures.
Both of these incentives are cost-based–designed to reward purchasers according to the price of each system in order to level the playing field to some extent and not show favoritism to a particular industry cluster or technology. However, solar panels are currently one of the most financially advantageous option in the UK, while in the US they remain one of the most expensive.
UK Feed in Tariff Favors Solar Panels
But not for long: in April 2012, the feed in tariff rates will be adjusted to reflect current prices for renewable energy systems. Solar panel prices have declined significantly in recent years, falling an incredible 17% from 2009 to 2010. While falling prices make solar panels a far more viable option for home- and business-owners, the feed in tariff rates will soon be reduced.
However, that does leave a brief window for individuals and businesses to take advantage of cheaper solar panel installation while capitalizing on favorable feed in tariff rates. Projects commissioned before the cut off date at the end of March will be guaranteed current rates for 25 years as part of the government’s commitment to providing long-term, secured contracts to bolster public confidence in renewable energy investments.
UK solar panel and energy efficiency company Intelligent Energy Solutions is among those advocating costumers to take advantage of this excellent opportunity, estimating that annual ROI will exceed 10%–providing a short payback period as well as substantial profits over the course of the 25 year feed in tariff contract.
Integrating Solar with Energy Efficiency
In addition to affordable, individually-tailored solar panel installations, Intelligent Energy Solutions suggests integrating heat pumps along with solar panels to efficiently solve both heating and electricity needs. Air source and ground source heat pumps extract heat from surroundings and use it to provide central and water heating at up to 400% efficiency.
Compared to boilers (which typically operate at about 60-70% efficiency), this is a staggering improvement–drastically reducing energy usage and offering substantial cost savings that quickly pay off the initial cost of installing a heat pump system. Combining heat pumps with renewable energy systems like solar panels creates an integrated energy solution that provides both heat and power while saving energy, money and the planet.
[Photocredit: SolarPower4Home; HeatPumpMinnesota]