On-site power continues to gain favour in the UK

ENER-G reports an acceleration in the uptake of its ‘pay-as-you-save’ discount energy purchase scheme in the UK, and more businesses are warming to the idea of green power self-generation, writes Richard Baillie.

ENER-G’s 230 kWe CHP system installed at Tangerine Confectionary under its Discount Energy Purchase scheme Credit: ENER-G

Cogeneration specialist ENER-G has seen an accelerated uptake of its discount energy scheme as the economic downturn continues to hit the UK’s small-to-medium (SME) enterprises and organizations hard.

According to the company, its pay-as-you-save Discount Energy Purchase scheme, which was pioneered in the 1990s, gives cash-strapped organizations access to energy-efficient combined heat and power (CHP) technology, without any upfront investment. The cost of the CHP system is paid for via a competively-priced metered energy charge.

ENER-G reported earlier this year that it had now sold more than half its small-scale cogen systems to UK business customers under the scheme.

‘The discount energy purchase concept is simple and places virtually no risk on our clients,’ says sales director Ian Hopkins, explaining that customers at times of recession do not want to tap into capital savings or take out expensive loans.

He adds, that ‘because the cogeneration system is highly efficient ENER-G is able to charge customers less for electrical output than from the grid and provide free heat, while still recouping adequate funds to cover the investment cost and ongoing maintenance of the system’.

‘Our clients can use their capital to fund core projects and sit back and enjoy bottom-line savings from CHP, which can achieve cost savings of up to 40% compared with electricity from the grid and heat generated by on-site boilers.

Furthermore, CHP systems primed by natural gas, or other fossial fuels, can cut carbon emissions by about 20%, compared with conventional plants, according to ENER-G calculations,’ he adds.

‘ENER-G’s cogeneration systems on offer range from just 4 kWe to over 5 MWe. CHP is typically 90% efficient for on-site energy consumption ” around twice as efficient as conventional plants, where the generated heat is wasted, while another 7% in efficiency losses occur by transmitting electricity from remote power stations to end-users,’ Hopkins concludes.

Among the businesses that are benefiting from funded cost and carbon savings is Tangerine Confectionery, which has five ENER-G cogeneration and trigeneration systems funded through the Discount Energy Purchase scheme.

Peter Sanders, operations director for Tangerine, says, “We are continually seeking ways to raise our environmental performance and this move to on-site generation of power is a key element of our carbon cutting strategy.

‘ENER-G is able to provide us with a total service, from initial design to long-term care of the systems. This has required no capital investment as the technology is supplied by ENER-G in return for us purchasing the generated electricity at a favourable rate.”

ENER-G’s Hopkins adds, “We have clients that have enjoyed the benefits of Discount Energy Purchase for 15 years and are now replacing their equipment under the same simple contract structure. It is a very effective way for companies to regain some control over their energy costs while electricity rates continue to rise.”

Growth in renewable self-generation

Recent research from Opus Energy, a business energy supplier, also suggests a growing level of interest among UK firms in generating renewable energy on their premises, compared with 2011.

More than a third of those surveyed ” 39%, up from 32% in 2011 ” expect to introduce solar panels, wind turbines, or anaerobic digestion, for example, and almost half (48%) expect to generate their own green electricity within two years.

In 2011, just 26% were looking to introduce on-site renewables within five years.

Of those surveyed, 15% are already generating renewable power, versus 6% in 2011. Interestingly, SME owners aged 55+ are leading the charge ” 20% already generate green power on site.

Opus Energy is also seeing more companies sign up to its renewable power purchase agreements (PPAs), which enable the supplier to purchase excess renewable power from businesses for its customers. This means companies can generate an extra income and enhance their corporate responsibility.

In the survey, the three main benefits stated by businesses for self-generation were: self-sufficiency (28%), generation of income (23%), and ‘doing our bit’ to combat climate change (17%).

Successful PPA signings

In December, Opus Energy announced the signing of its 500th renewable PPA.

A relatively recent signing is with Knocknain Farm in Scotland, which now sells all its 330 kW wind-generated power to Opus Energy. The Port of Milford Haven also signed an agreement last year, enabling the energy supplier to buy excess power from solar photovoltaic (PV) systems installed on multiple buildings. This includes the Port’s flagship 100.8 kW Phoenix Power PV plant ” the largest integrated solar PV system in Wales ” located on the roof of a tenpin bowling centre.

According to Charlie Crossley Cooke, managing director of Opus Energy: ‘It’s great to see companies warming to the idea of generating their own renewable energy’ adding that Opus Energy can work with companies to help them realise the extra revenue and benefits to be gained by entering this market.

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