How to switch to renewable energy
Is renewable energy right for my business?
Before switching to renewable energy, make sure that you have done all you can to reduce your need for energy in the first place. This will ensure that the energy you do use has the lowest environmental impact.
Which type of renewable energy is right for my business?
Once you have reduced your need for energy you can consider which renewable energy options are appropriate to meet your requirements.
If you choose to generate your own renewable energy, you will first need to select the best technology to meet your needs. You should consider factors such as:
- your business' current energy use, including energy type, overall consumption and fluctuations in demand
- the energy mix that you will require - some renewable energy technologies can only produce either electricity or heat, while others can generate both
- the practical limitations of different types of renewable energy
Once you have identified the appropriate technology, you will need to carry out a feasibility study. This will assess the practical aspects of installation, such as technical, economic and environmental performance. Feasibility studies are usually undertaken by a specialist renewable energy consultant.
You may also find it useful to speak to:
- other businesses who use renewable energy
- your local council planning department
- installers and suppliers of renewable energy technologies
You could become involved in a large off-site project such as a wind farm or discuss joint renewable energy projects with other local organisations.
Buying renewable energy
You could get your energy supply on a green tariff from a supply company that takes extra steps to reduce emissions from the gas or electricity it sells and gets a higher percentage of energy from renewable sources. Green tariffs may cost slightly more than a traditional tariff and the additional carbon benefit of green tariffs is not wholly clear.
The need for planning permission
Planning in Northern Ireland falls within the remit local councils. Although permitted development rights for non-domestic microgeneration have not yet been introduced, legislative proposals for the installation of a range of small scale renewable energy technologies associated with non-domestic land uses are being refined.
Whilst permitted development rights are not yet available, your development may still go ahead provided you obtain planning permission from your local council. You should discuss your ideas with your local council planning office and obtain planning permission before undertaking any project.