Environmental guidance for your business in Northern Ireland & Scotland

Renewable energy considerations

Renewable energy: some things to consider

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.

Carbon Trust: Advice for a low carbon economy

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. For more information, see the pages in this guide on using wind energy, using biomass energy and anaerobic digestion, using solar energy, using geothermal energy and ground source heat pumps, and using hydroelectric power.

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 authority planning department
  • installers and suppliers of renewable energy technologies.

You can find a list of accredited installers and products on the Microgeneration Certification Scheme website.

The Microgeneration Certification Scheme

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.

Ofgem, the energy regulatory body, has introduced a scheme to certify green tariffs. To get the 'green energy certified' label, the supplier has to demonstrate that:

  • their tariffs result in reduced emissions
  • they have invested in carbon offsetting or community energy projects.

Green Energy Supply Certification Scheme

The need for planning permission In Northern Ireland

You will not require planning permission from your local area planning office for all renewable energy projects. In some cases permitted development rights may apply that remove the need for permission, provided certain criteria apply.

If permitted development rights are not available then your development may still go ahead provided you obtain planning permission from your local area planning office. You should discuss your ideas with your local area planning office before undertaking any project.

The need for planning permission in Scotland

You will not require planning permission from your local authority for all renewable energy projects. In some cases permitted development rights may apply that remove the need for permission, provided certain criteria apply.

Permitted development rights for non-domestic premises are currently available for:

  • building and ground mounted solar panels
  • ground source heat pumps
  • water source heat pumps
  • flues for biomass heating systems
  • flues for combined heat and power systems.

Additional permitted development rights may also be available for agricultural and forestry businesses.

If permitted development rights are not available then your development may still go ahead provided you obtain planning permission from your local authority. You should discuss your ideas with your local planning department before undertaking any project.

You can find details of permitted development rights for renewable energy projects in the relevant planning legislation.

Town and Country planning  - non-domestic microgeneration in Scotland

Further information

The Carbon Trust

In Scotland, the Energy Saving Trust has developed the Green Network for Businesses. This tool allows you to search by postcode for green businesses in your area. All these businesses have installed energy saving or energy generating technologies .

Once you identify the business that has installed the green technology you are interested in, contact them to organise a visit.

EST: Green Network for Business

Back to Generate Renewable Energy home page

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