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A green alternative to generators
A green alternative to generators
It will come as no surprise to hear that the price paid for heating oil has increased by 14.4% between Q4 2010 and Q4 2011*, so many people are considering how they can reduce their reliance on this expensive resource. But if you live - or run a business - in a remote location, your options are limited.  
 
...Or they have been until recently. 
 
A company based in the Midlands, Off-Grid Energy, has developed a solution for properties that aren't connected to the National Grid that not only saves them money, it also reduces CO2 emissions. 
 
Gorbit Fields, located in the Warwickshire countryside, is a typical livery yard and home. Power was generated by a 15kvA generator, in use for 12-16 hours each day and fuel costs were up to 100 per week. At night, with the generator off, torches had to be used. But when the generator gave up, other options needed to be considered. Connection to the National Grid was out of the question because of the expense so they turned to Off Grid Energy. 
 
Managing director of Off Grid Energy, Danny Jones, says: 'Our hybrid solution uses a battery, inverters, solar panels and wind turbines in conjunction with a generator. When it's sunny or windy, power is created via the solar panels and wind turbine to top up the power in the high-capacity battery. All of the elements combine to provide you with constant power, just as if you were on grid mains. If the power runs down and is not topped up using these renewable sources, or there's a sudden requirement for a lot of power, the generator is automatically switched on. It switches off automatically when it's no longer needed which results in considerable fuel savings.  
 
'Modern stable buildings provide a superb structure for mounting solar panels. Thin-film amorphous technology is ideally suited to these situations where the typically low pitch roof has less impact on yield. The large surface area that is usually available eliminates the disadvantage of lower power density.' 
 
The equipment was installed in winter and the contribution that the solar panels will make to generating power won't really be felt until the spring. Regardless of this, the solution has already cut generator fuel consumption by over 75%, saving 4,500 per year immediately. Add the anticipated income of around 750 per year from the government FIT payments and the savings from reduced generator servicing costs, and the total cost benefit is expected to be around 5,750 per year, easily covering the solution installation costs within 3 years. 
 
Danny concludes: 'It wins on so many levels - both economical and environmental. Because you're mainly using renewables, the generator's fuel consumption is minimal, then there's the CO2 reduction, as well as an income from the government FiTs.'  
 
Off Grid Energy are also able to arrange competitive finance to cover the cost of the equipment. In the case of Gorbit Fields, the money that was saved in fuel would cover the cost of finance over a three year period and so making the investment may not have to impact significantly on resources. 
 
The team from Off Grid Energy will be appearing at Burghley Horse Trials this year as part of the Green Lifestyle Pavilion at the Exhibition Village. 
 
*Department for Energy and Climate Change March 2012.
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