Category: Insight

Sustainable Food and Beverage Conference

On Tuesday 7th we will be attending the Sustainable Food and Beverage Conference.

Ever wandered how your company could reduce electricity bills or how your company could reach its CSR? We will be able to answer your questions with our presentation at 10.15 in seminar 6.

We have worked with many food and beverage companies in the past, most noticeably Bernard Matthews, where we installed 5 MW across a number of sites.

If you are attending the show we would love to discuss how we can help your company save money with renewable energy. If you cannot make the show but would like to know more get in touch!

First Subsidy Free Solar Farm

This week saw the opening of the UK’s first solar farm that was built in the absence of any government support.

Clayhill Solar Farm in Bedfordshire has paved the way for subsidy free installations on a large scale. It  has a capacity of 10 MW, which is enough energy to power 2,500 homes. Clayhill received no Renewables Obligation contract nor was it offered a Contracts for Difference. Therefore, Anesco, the company behind the installation, had to make savings elsewhere.

Anesco has a four year relationship with Chinese manufacturer BYD, alowing them to reduce their prices for the 30,000  315 W poly solar cells and 6 MW of battery storage.

Huawei supplied 1,500 V inverters, with Anesco the first company to use Huawei in Europe. Each inverter has a maximum power point tracker and 12 directly connected string inputs. This improves the flexibility of the PV strings and maximising yields.

Another significant reduction in cost is down to a neighbouring 5 MW solar farm with already established grid connections.

The site is estimated to export 9,000 MWh of energy each year. This will be backed up by revenue streams linked to the batteries. Clayhill will bid for revenue streams from various tenders when it is ready. Including, the Capacity Market and the Enhanced and Fast Frequency Response. Once the site has pre-qualified for Capacity Market tenders in mid-November the batteries will be turned on.

Excellent planning and shrewd business acumen has made this Clayhill a viable endeavour, that is sure to be inspiration for any future solar farm.

 

 

Solar PV system fault – Not True

RenEnergy has been made aware of several companies that claiming our PV systems are catching fire and that they will send an engineer out to fix the problem.

We would like to confirm that this is not true. RenEnergy has not partnered with any maintenance companies nor have we passed on any customer details to third parties. We would like to reassure you that RenEnergy takes consumer protection seriously. Please be assured that contact details are not shared by RenEnergy.

Please contact RenEnergy if you have recently been approached by a company claiming a faulty system.

If you have any concerns about the information you have been provided by an installation or maintenance company, please contact RenEnergy (Tel: 01603 713448 / Email: info@renenergy.co.uk)

Industry Q&A with RenEnergy MD Damian Baker

RenEnergy recently began construction on a 1.9MW solar farm for Briar Chemicals, one of the last of its kind to be supported by ROC accreditation.

With the 31 March deadline for the closure of the subsidy scheme looming, founder and managing director of RenEnergy Damian Baker explained to SPP what the future holds for large scale solar deployment in a post-ROC world.

How do you see the removal of subsidy under the ROC scheme affecting the power purchase agreement (PPA) and large scale solar market?

I think that going forward post-ROC, if you’ve got the right project with the right counter party with the right energy usage on site you can make a deal work but everything’s got to be right. If there’s a developer involved they can’t take very much of a margin, you’ve got to have a site with no shading, high onsite usage but the PPA deal won’t be as good as we gave Briar Chemicals.

The removal of ROCs will certainly change the financial structure of future deals. What impact will this have on PPAs going forward and how can you ensure a good return?

We don’t class ourselves as a traditional EPC, we class ourselves as someone who brings and will own the systems. So we’re not looking at it just on what margin we can make, we’re looking at the longer term and we think the margins are going to be thinner all the way through. It’s all going to be about quality of installation and strength of counter party and how the project looks over the next 15-20 years.

The reality is your asset has to perform 100% from day one because when it comes to selling that asset on or even getting the yield yourself, margins are going to be skinny all the way through. It needs to do what it says on the tin from day one.

We look after all our O&M and when we look back over sites we’ve installed, we’re getting really good yields.

What are the advantages of coming out of the ROC system?

The deadlines have been too tight [and] then they were pushing for cheaper prices so you ended up with a perfect storm rather than looking at the best long-term opportunity and then making sure it was installed correctly.

What I’m hoping is that planning horizons will lengthen out so we can work on all these things that historically we’ve not been able to do because there wasn’t enough time. So you bring that planning horizon into a longer more sustainable business and I think that is the right approach.

We’ve got to move into a sustainable industry; solar PV has been a very sustainable product but in the least sustainable industry. You’re giving people a 25 year investment yet the companies installing the stuff aren’t sustainable.

 

“We’ve got to move into a sustainable industry; solar PV has been a very sustainable product but in the least sustainable industry.”

What new strategies are you looking at for the post-ROC market?

Big industrial users are paying very little for their energy but when you get to people who can take 100kW and use most of it they’re still going to be paying a certain amount for their energy and that makes it very much more viable. You’ve got a slightly higher legal cost but if you then have a generic lease, there’s potentially a little more in it and people can benefit more, so instead of them paying 12p you can probably get it to 8.5-9p.

Aside from PPAs, what other grid scale opportunities do you see for solar development without subsidy?

You’re going to have to have an off-taker. Unless they make sleeving much easier I can’t see that we’re going to get direct into the grid for 5p for a while. I think within four or five years that market will be back on.

[Until then] there’s a huge amount of opportunity out there. We’re seeing the grid open up in some places so we’ve got a number of clients that have 200-250kW [systems] which we’ll be moving into, working on community schemes.

If you look at a lot of the housing developments going in, some of these are going to have massive power needs and I’m not sure where the grid is going to come from. I think there will be an opportunity to set up a micro-grid using gas CHP and microgrids with solar and renewables all plumbed in together and then you become the power company for those housing developments.

Companies like us would be able to lead that and take all that responsibility off the housing developer. The DNOs will struggle to get power out to people and they’re going to be charging a lot of money.

If you can say ‘give us the deal to power your 2,000 houses for the next 25 years, we’ll give you market related prices, say 12p/kW for a whole housing estate’, we could easily do that and get good margins and then the project is very green.

Originally published in Solar Power Portal on 9 March 2017

RenEnergy constructs largest ‘behind the meter’ solar PV installation in Norfolk

Briar Chemicals Solar PV

RenEnergy has started construction of a 1.9MW solar Photo Voltaic (PV) plant at the Briar Chemicals site in Norwich, UK.

The PV array will provide low carbon energy directly into the Briar facility, with any surplus generation going to the national energy grid. The development will be built on a site adjacent to the plant, utilising an otherwise undeveloped plot of land to generate enough energy to power the equivalent of 400 houses, and offset 860 tonnes of CO2 annually.

Unique PPA funding model

The solar array will be installed at no capital cost to Briar; rather it will be owned and maintained by RenEnergy, selling the energy produced in a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA). This in itself is not an unusual business model, with PPA deals becoming an increasingly common way for business to fund solar PV. However, this project is unique in its deployment of a ‘market tracking’ PPA model, whereby RenEnergy offers a percentage discount on whatever rate Briar can negotiate on the energy market, ensuring that they never pay more for their renewable energy than they would from the grid, even in the unlikely scenario that energy prices crash.

This funding innovation is just one way that RenEnergy is trying to adjust to a post-subsidy market, in order to deliver savings and sustainability to as many businesses as possible. Read more about PPA funded solar in post-subsidy Britain here.

Mounting frame ready for PV panels

Keeping business competitive and sustainable

Over the 25-year life of the project, the discount will amount to significant operational savings, helping Briar remain competitive and sustainable in a global market, whilst complimenting the operation of the existing Combined Heat and Power (CHP) plant.

Tim Green, Executive Director and Site Manager said: “This is an exciting project; it will allow us to use power generated from the sun and use it within our manufacturing processes.  This will enable us to focus on production of cost-effective high quality chemicals, knowing that we are doing so in an extremely environmentally friendly way.”

Damian Baker, MD of RenEnergy said: “We have been working with Briar for over nine months to deliver this project. The system had to be designed to ensure it met the high standards demanded in this engineering sector and is a real testament to all involved.”

The installation will consist of 6,508 Solar World PV panels connected to 84 Fronius inverters. The ground frame used to mount the panels was designed and manufactured by Hi-Span in Wymondham, part of RenEnergy’s policy to use local suppliers whenever possible.

Designed in order for peak generation to coincide with Briar’s peak energy load. The solar plant will produce approximately 1,800,000 kWh of energy a year, of which over 70% will be consumed on site, with the surplus being exported for use elsewhere on the electricity grid.

Specially designed ground frame from Hi-Span, Wymondham

Improved biodiversity

In addition to the generation of low carbon energy, the ground array will enhance the biodiversity of the area, providing shelter and habitat to a wide variety of insects, animals and wildflowers, further adding to the green credentials of the project.

More about Briar Chemicals 

Briar Chemicals deliver chemical synthesis, formulation, packing and shipping services to customers across the globe. From their site in Norwich, they service world-leading companies in the crop protection, fine and speciality sectors, utilising a broad asset and technology base, underpinned by quality driven project management and operational excellence.

Have you considered free solar PV for your business?

Free solar PV

Reduce overheads, improve green credentials and secure your energy future with a free solar PV system from RenEnergy.

Energy-intensive businesses are perfectly placed to take advantage of our well-established Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) funding model, and could be saving thousands per year on energy bills without any capital outlay.

RenEnergy has developed and delivered a number of high-profile PPA solar projects across the UK. At its simplest, RenEnergy enters into a lease agreement with you for 25-40 years, allowing us to install a solar PV array on your otherwise redundant available roof or ground space. We then sell your business the green energy generated at a discounted rate. If it is not used we export it to the national grid.

This arrangement has several core benefits to your business, all with zero capital outlay:

  • Significantly reduce your annual energy expenditure. Often the single greatest cost to a business after wages.
  • Improve your green credentials. Solar PV is a big tick against your Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), which not only sits well with end consumers, but is increasingly valued throughout your whole supply chain. Ultimately, going green could be crucial to securing the next big contract.
  • Hedge against energy inflation. By reducing your dependence on the grid, you are sheltering your company from unpredictable and fluctuating costs. With green levies and transmission charges accounting for over 50% of an energy bill, prices are set to rocket in the coming years, even if commodity prices don’t.
  • Fixed or flexible tariffs. No two companies are the same, so we offer PPA deals to best suit your financial plan. Choose from either a fixed (index linked) discount rate for the duration of the term, or opt for our proprietary market-tracking model. Where we will sell you energy at the given market rate less 10%.
  • Help to meet ESOS, and other government enforced commitments. Whilst currently voluntary, the government will increasingly move towards ‘stick’ methods to meet its carbon commitments. Offset your impact now before you are forced to comply with expensive measures or hit with significant carbon taxes.
  • Maintenance and hassle free. As part of the lease agreement your system will have an ongoing operation and maintenance contract, allowing you to focus on your core business activities.
  • No Minimum requirement on use. We only ask that if you use power you use our cheaper greener energy first but no minimum quantity.
  • Non-binding and fully transferable. In the event that your business outgrows your current premises, the PPA contract can be transferred to the new occupants.
  • Add to your bottom line and ultimately your company’s value. Reduce your overheads and increase your EBITDA.
  • Ownership of the system transfers to you at the end of the lease. Solar PV has a useful life of at least 40 years, meaning that you will receive FREE green energy for its remaining 20 year lifetime.

Suitability will vary, but if you are a large energy consumer, have available roof or ground space, and own or have a long-term lease on your business premises, you could be adding thousands to your bottom line.

Give our team a call today to discuss suitability and potential savings on 01603 713448 or email info@renenergy.co.uk

RenEnergy O&M services are in full swing

At RenEnergy our expertise and attention to detail don’t end with the successful completion of a project. We go further, offering comprehensive Operation & Maintenance contracts to ensure that our solutions deliver the best possible return on your investment.

Regular health checks and continuous monitoring will minimize the risk of any system downtime, giving you peace of mind that your PV array is working hard to save you money.

For a set annual fee our comprehensive O&M contracts include:

  • Annual health check, including full technical service
    • Site visit from one of our highly trained technical team who will perform a multi-point check to ensure optimal performance. They will spot any early warning signs and compile a list of ‘advisory’ actions to avoid any potential loss in performance and earnings.
  • Continuous remote system monitoring
    • Our office staff will keep a close eye on your investment, recording detailed performance data. Our pro-active fault finding service will reduce potential downtime, including over the phone technical assistance to quickly resolve any minor errors.
  • Quarterly and annual performance reports
    • Portfolio overview
    • Performance ratio comparisons against predicted yields
    • Maintenance log
    • Advisories
  • Three operational call outs per year
    • If a technical fault cannot be rectified remotely we will send a technician up to three times per year at no additional cost to you. Any replacement parts outside of warranty will be charged on a job-by-job basis.
  • FiT check
    • We will compare your annual FiT payments to the monitored yields ensuring that you are receiving full and correct payments.
  • Insurance appraisal
    • Once a year we will provide an appraisal of the current value of your system, allowing you to amend your insurance and save money.

Module Cleaning

We do offer a full module cleaning service upon request; however this is not included in our annual O&M contract, as we find it can often be surplus to requirement. We will advise when we think your system would benefit from our cleaning service, but our goal is to increase your return for the minimum annual cost.

Even if RenEnergy was not the original installer of your PV array, give us a call today and see how we can help you to manage your asset.

RenEnergy gains OLEV certification to install Rolec and EO electric vehicle charge points

OLEV, EV Charging

RenEnergy is now fully certified by the Office for Low Emission Vehicles to install home charge points for electric and plugin hybrid cars. The certification allows our customers to take advantage of the OLEV grant, a government subsidy of up to £500 for the purchase and installation of an EV charge point.

Home charging is the most cost effective way to charge your electric or plugin hybrid vehicle.

Capable of saving you £000’s per year, a dedicated charge point is both faster, and more efficient than a conventional three-pin plug.

With EV charging costs as little as 2p per mile on standard electricity supplies, it is not hard to see why electric vehicles are predicted to account for 35% of all new car sales by 2040.

Many of our solar solar PV customers could see even greater savings when charging during sunlight hours, harnessing the sun to power their cars as well as their homes.

You can read a full overview of the OLEV scheme HERE, but in brief:

  • Government subsidy for 75% of the value, up to £500, for the purchase and installation of a home charge point.
  • The registered owner of any eligible electric or plugin hybrid vehicle qualifies for the grant.
  • The grant can only be claimed on your behalf by an OLEV certified installer (like RenEnergy).
  • You can claim one charge point grant per eligible vehicle.

Of course, charging doesn’t need to be a solely home based activity. Many owners will use their EV for the daily commute, so why not speak to your employers and ask about installing charge points at the office. We can even offer very attractive profit share schemes for businesses that will offer pay-per-pay charging to the public.

RenEnergy is a certified to install both Rolec and EO chargers, so if you have recently purchased an electric or plugin hybrid vehicle, or are thinking of investing in a low cost future; give RenEnergy a call to discuss the best solution for you.

 

Tom Lloyd

07766181810

01603713448

RenEnergy Africa features in agricultural irrigation publication ‘SABI’.

Irrigation

Our business partners in South Africa have featured in the April edition of SABI magazine, the industry voice for the South Africa Irrigation Institute.

With energy reliability becoming an increasing issue in the country, solar PV can provide a cost effective solution for a wide array of agricultural applications, not least the energy intensive process of irrigating parched arable land.

Read the article below or visit the SABI website for more information or to subscribe.

While some sectors may be reporting sluggish business, not so the solar PV (Solar Photovoltaic) arena.
With offices in Somerset West in the Western Cape, solar PV company RenEnergy Africa is another solar PV group SABI magazine spoke with who is experiencing expanding interest amongst South Africans exploring solar options.

RenEnergy Africa summarises its business as follows “We design and install optimized bespoke Solar Photovoltaic (PV) and energy storage solutions. We are a full EPC (Engineering, Procurement, Construction), with highly experienced personnel. Each design and installation is done in house (not sub-contracted out), to ensure utmost quality of work.

“Our expert understanding of Solar PV solutions, is reflected in our uncompromising quality of design, installation and commissioning for a reliable 25 year Solar PV electricity generation system. This is reflected in our results of not only meeting but exceeding generation targets and our customer’s energy requirements.”

Jean-Roux Heyns, business development manager for RenEnergy Africa, which has a head office in the United Kingdom, says the alternative power landscape is without a doubt growing. Indeed, they believe, that given several highly advantageous factors such as sunlight being a free and renewable energy source and the technology (which has no moving parts) being close to maintenance-free – all in the face of escalating electricity costs, solar PV is a win-win solution.

Generation good
Heyns says the market in South Africa will continue to develop, unfolding in much the same fashion as the European solar markets, for example: Germany, United Kingdom, France etc. Notably, we have far better generation figures here in South Africa – with our sun irradiation – as compared with European irradiance.

He comments further: “With the advantages of solar PV and prices being more competitive (prices have gone beyond costparity) than grid-purchased or Eskom energy, the landscape continues to grow.

“Regulations have already begun changing to foster and develop renewable energy. An example of which is 100% depreciation of your Solar PV project in year 1 (under 1 MW) and Netmetering/ banking of energy if you are on an Eskom medium voltage network “

As solar PV is a comparatively new offering in South Africa where fossil fuel has dominated for some time, there is a lot of information and knowledge-sharing that invariably needs to be done. The company invests effort and time in knowledge and information sharing with customers and potential clientele. They recently held a highly successful Open Day in the Western Cape, for example.

Adding extra phases
Reflects Heyns: “Consider that five years ago, most businesses had not yet given much thought to Solar PV. In the initial years we spent time educating customers about benefits and the various options available. What is evident is that our customers who have carried out projects, have great demand in conducting new projects or additional phases. This is very much due to seeing the actual returns and savings. “

RenEnergy is very active in the agricultural arena as well as business and residential sectors. They operate nationwide and have completed three projects for North West agri business NWK in Lichtenburg, and in fact are working on an additional two projects for NWK. “Presently we have high demand from our customers, who, once experiencing the benefits of solar
PV in their energy equation, are typically wanting us to explore additional phases and to further reduce reliance on grid, to gain further dependence.”

In terms of agricultural demand for solar PV, RenEnergy believe that competitiveness is becoming of greater importance in the sector. Comments Heyns: “Simply put, Solar PV is cheaper, allows control and competitiveness in electricity provision. It is a cheaper and reliable form of generation that can be forecasted accurately utilising area specific historical data. The savings go beyond 25 years, with guaranteed generation for 25 years, still producing 80% in year 25. This fulfils short term, mid-term and long term risks associated in electricity costs for business.”

RenEnergy is very passionate about engineering and design, says Heyns. They spend a lot of time understanding a customer’s business requirements, energy usage patterns and design plus engineering to ensure effective solar PV systems are commissioned.

“Our interest is not in the size of installation, but rather in the right fit. As Solar PV is modular, the application can be expanded in phases and as budget permits. Sometimes, customers require access to additional capacity (kVA), sometimes they want to be more independent, some want to maximise cost efficiency and ensure competitiveness and maximise savings,” he says.

Saving energy for pumping
RenEnergy is an international company, was founded in 2006. The team has received international training in the UK, as well as Germany. “There is over 200 MW or 200,000 kW installation experience within the team. Our installations are done country wide. As per our motto, we are a proud “partner in power” and it is imperative that results are achieved. We are proud of our track record and of our professional and experienced staff. These are the foundations on which our business is built,” elaborates Heyns.

On the vital issue of demand for solar PV installations as a part of irrigation cost containment, RenEnergy say that, in fact, they very active in delivering solutions to save energy for pumping and the movement of water.

Heyns says: “We are currently busy with a 51 kWp ground mount system which provides 70% of the peak power to the pumps (grid providing the balance), for attaining 60% savings. We have grid/ tied Solar PV systems for the movement of water, which is a very effective storage mechanism.

“We also have off-grid pumping solutions, if full pumping requirements can be met during daylight hours. Some farmers believe that they need to replace their pumps and existing motors, which is not the case. We can add the equipment necessary to provide solar pumping equipment. “

Expert tips from RenEnergy for those just starting to explore solar PV for their farm or enterprise?

“If you can, bring a Solar PV partner in during the planning stages and before the equipment has been procured. This allows the full spectrum of equipment to be selected so that the puzzle pieces suit the outcomes required.

“As indicated, we are able to work with existing pumps and motors as well. We work together with designers, pump specialists and irrigation specialists to provide the correct solution. We work together with other experts, to bring the right solution to the table,” he advises.

RenEnergy MD Damian Baker shares international experience with Solar Business Focus

The latest issue of Solar Business Focus is out now, including insight from RenEnergy’s founder and Managing Director, Damian Baker.

This months lead feature focuses on ‘Brits Abroad’, the UK based solar companies that have looked overseas to develop and expand their business. Of course, RenEnergy is no stranger to international expansion, having developed PV projects from the Arctic to Australia, and opening an office in South Africa back in 2012.

As the PV market takes its ever changing course in the UK, many solar firms are looking abroad for new investment opportunities, and some semblance of stability. Whilst there are obviously inherent risks and challenges to international expansion, but Damian believes ‘well-structured, well-managed, well-financed UK-based businesses who want to do it for the right reasons. There are opportunities for them’.

We certainly feel that the move has been a positive one, as the company’s international footprint goes from strength to strength. However ‘take it from me, it’s not a route to fast bucks’ says Baker.

It’s sometimes not as straightforward as it might appear at first glance. “It’s not all rosy, we invested some money into a project in Brazil that hasn’t gone so well,” Baker explains, adding: ‘If you take the pure economic factors – how much sunshine does it get, how much does energy cost, what’s the supply situation – they’re a pretty good guide but there’s lots of countries out there that have major energy issues… how comfortable would you be putting your money there? Look at the Middle East. Massive solar resource, big energy issues but you wouldn’t be too happy sticking a load of solar in Syria at the moment’.

The feature was originally posted in Solar Business Focus in March 2016. To read the full feature or subscribe to the publication click on the cover image or HERE

 

Solar Business Focus Featuring RenEnergy

 

 

 

Biomimicry inspires new solar panel innovation

A decision is set to be made this evening over a 5MW solar farm planned for development on the site of a former quarry.

Engineers from the University of Exeter have discovered that mimicking the stance of a butterfly getting ready to take off can boost the efficiency of solar panels by almost 50 percent.

The common Cabbage White butterfly warms its muscles before taking flight using a technique known as reflectance basking, where it uses its wings to reflect the sun’s energy onto its body.

Reflectance basking is made possible by specific sub-structures in the butterflies’ wings that reflect light from the sun very efficiently.

A team from the Environment and Sustainability Institute and the Centre for Ecology and Conservation in Exeter found that by applying a similar wing-like structure to solar panels, and artificially replicating the layer of reflective scales covering butterflies’ wings, the power-to-weight ratio of a panel can be dramatically increased, making it more efficient.

Tapas Mallick, the lead author of the paper explains: “Biomimicry in engineering is not new. However, this truly multidisciplinary research shows a pathway to develop low cost solar power that has not been done before.”

Richard French-Constant, a co-author on the paper, adds: “This proves that the lowly Cabbage White is not just a pest of your cabbages but actually an insect that is an expert at harvesting solar energy.”