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Make the Switch to Renewable Energy for a cleaner, greener future

Fossil fuels, such as coal, oil and gas, are by far the most significant contributor to climate change, making up 75 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions and nearly 90 per cent of all carbon dioxide emissions.

Switching to renewable energy is a great way to reduce your business’s carbon footprint and contribute to a cleaner, greener more sustainable and reliable future.  The mechanics of switching can seem overwhelming, so we’ve put together some top tips for how you can be part of the change.

Choose a renewable energy supplier

You can be part of the change towards a greener future by choosing a renewable energy provider.  With 35.9% of UK energy coming from renewable sources in 2022, this is now a realistic option for many businesses, and it makes a big difference.  Our Changemaker Champions Alpine Park Cottages and Otterton Mill are among East Devon businesses that have already taken this practical and positive step.

Choose an energy company that only uses renewable energy sources, like Octopus or Ecotricity.  Or ask your existing provider about a deal that uses only renewable power – most larger energy companies now offer this option.   Don’t forget to shop around, as energy tariffs can vary very considerably.

For more details about how to make the switch, go here or here.

Generate your own renewable energy

By installing your own renewable energy system you can make a big difference to your business's carbon emissions,  taking a significant step towards becoming a net zero business.  At the same time, you can significantly reduce your energy costs and enjoy energy security and independence. 

Solar Thermal and Solar Panels

Solar Thermal technology collects heat from the sun’s rays and stores it as heat which is usually used for water heating. 

Solar Panels employ newer photovoltaic (PV) technology to transform sunlight into electricity and can be used for all your household energy needs.  Both are great technologies that can provide your business with clean energy and lead to significant reductions in your energy bills.   They can be installed on any East, West or South facing roof or on the ground.  Numerous East Devon businesses have already seen the benefits of making the switch to solar energy, including our Changemaker Champions Oakdown Holiday Park.

You can find out more about the two kinds of technology and find indicative costs of buying and installing solar panels here.

Because you don’t just use electricity when the sun is shining, you may want to invest in a solar battery that stores any excess electricity generated by your solar panels for later use.

If you generate more electricity than you use, you can “sell” the excess electricity back to the National Grid. Under a scheme called the Smart Export Guarantee, your energy provider will compensate you for any surplus energy that you export to the National Grid.   Energy providers will buy back electricity at different tariffs, so it’s worth shopping around for the best deal.  The industry regulator, Ofgem, has provided guidance for applying for the Smart Export Guarantee, here

With energy prices at current levels, solar panels are becoming an increasingly sound investment, with an average payback time of 3 – 4 years. With an estimated 25-year life span, they can save your business very significantly over the lifetime of the technology.

To find out whether solar panels may be right for your business, click here.

If the initial capital outlay is a barrier for your business, then there are some financial incentives available. 

Investment in sustainable technologies may be deductible from your corporation tax bill.  Ask your accountant what options are available to you.

Banks are increasingly offering favourable rates to businesses that are looking to invest in sustainable energy generation.

A Power Purchase Agreement is another alternative.  Under this scheme, a power provider will install its own panels at your property and in return allow the host business to purchase back electricity at a very reduced price.  You can find more information here.

Wind Turbines

Installing a wind turbine reduces your reliance on the National Grid and provides clean energy.  Wind turbines can provide a flexible solution to your energy needs, with various models and price points available.   They are particularly suitable for businesses situated in open, exposed and elevated locations where there are high windspeeds and frequent winds.  As with solar technology, tax deductions, loans and financing arrangements may be available to help with the upfront cost of installation. 

To find out whether wind turbines might be the solution for your business, click here.  

Air Source Heat Pumps

Replacing your gas-fired central heating with an air-source heat pump could save your business money and will certainly use less energy (approximately 70% less) to heat your premises.  Air source heat pumps don’t run on fossil fuels and only require electricity. Because of the relatively high price of electricity compared to gas, a heat pump may not make your business significant financial savings at this time, but it has other benefits like improving your property’s EPC and environmental credentials.   You can find out the relative cost of a heat pump, answers to FAQs and accessible video content on the Energy Saving Trust’s website here. 

Find an installer for your chosen technology here.  

If you run your business from home, then a government grant of up to £7,500 may be available to part-fund the cost of a heat pump.  It is worth noting that you will only be eligible for a grant if you use an MCS-certified installer.  You can find out more here.

Biomass Boilers

Biomass boilers use renewable, low-carbon fuel in place of fossil fuels and can provide a viable, off-grid alternative energy source.  Many biomass boilers use waste products from agriculture or wood chippings to provide low-carbon, reliable and affordable heating and can be a particularly good choice for businesses in rural areas.  Our Changemaker Champion Higher Wiscombe is a local business which has made the switch to using biomass boilers for all their heating, including their holiday cottages and swimming pool. 

Businesses may be eligible for a government grant of up to £5,000 to part-fund the cost of installing a biomass boiler.  To find out more, click here.

Financial Incentives

If the initial capital outlay on renewable energy technology is a barrier for your business, then there are some financial incentives available. 

Investment in sustainable technologies may be deductible from your corporation tax bill.  Ask your accountant what options are available to you. It’s also worth remembering that until 2027, no VAT will be chargeable on the installation cost of solar panels, wind turbines and heat pumps, an effective saving of 20%.

Banks are increasingly offering favourable rates to businesses that are looking to invest in sustainable energy generation.  More information can be found here.

A Power Purchase Agreement is another alternative.  Under this scheme, a power provider will install its own panels at your property and in return allow the host business to purchase back electricity at a very reduced price.  You can find more information here. Finance for businesses to invest in decarbonisation initiatives will be available through East Devon District Council’s Carbon Action Programme here. 

The UK Government’s “Find A Grant” service provides updated information on government grants available for businesses to make improvements here.  The Grants Resources Information Network provides a subscriber database detailing charitable grants, including those available for net zero projects and is probably most relevant to social enterprises and community organisations. 

For more information contact: Email: info@grin.coop

Find Out More

To find out more about renewable energy installations and how they could help you save on your business energy costs, check out this recorded online seminar from VisitEngland.  (Hit the Access Webinar Recording Button to continue)

Don’t forget to visit our energy-saving pages for more tips on how to reduce your business carbon footprint.

Contact Us

If you’ve made the switch to renewable energy and would like to share your experience and inspire others to do the same, we’d love to hear from you.  You can contact us at sustainability@sidmouth.gov.uk