Understanding options of renewable energy

Owners of land and buildings from pony paddocks to industrial units across South Yorkshire and the Peak District could miss out on income from solar and wind power due to a lack of understanding of the various options available, says the head of a new renewable energy guidance service launched this week by rural professionals Bagshaws.

Simon Oborn, who heads up the renewables department of rural surveyor Bagshaws, says the sector has already become a minefield for the uninitiated.

“As with the development of the mobile telecomms in the 1990s there is potential for owners of land and buildings to be confused by the opportunities that might be available to them. This can be caused by conflicting information and changing market dynamics,” he said.

“With guidance, renewables offer potential for long-term financial benefits, whether in the form of cost savings through the use of power generated or revenue from selling surplus electricity, with payments backed by government’s commitment to reduce carbon emissions. Ministers have guaranteed to underpin support payments in the form of Feed-in Tariffs to the electric supply network from wind energy for 20 years and solar energy for 25 years,” explains Mr Oborn.

The key requirement for generating energy from wind is typically an air speed greater than 5m per second; for solar energy a south-facing aspect is preferred.

“There are a number of options on how to capitalise on renewable energy suited to owners’ individual plans and pockets,” suggests Mr Oborn who has rejoined Bagshaws after a decade of managing telecommunication sites.

“It is a myth that owners of sites need to invest large amounts of capital. Instead they can choose whether to rent or sell a site and whether to invest in generating equipment or have an energy company install its own,” he explains.

“A major advantage of harnessing wind or solar energy is equipment often doesn’t disrupt a site’s existing use,” says Mr Oborn. “In many cases it is extra income for free.”