Solar energy is almost entirely free – it needs no fuel and produces no waste, it is totally clean and can significantly reduce your reliance on other forms of fuel. Even when there is no direct sunlight or in the middle of winter, the sun’s rays are still delivering energy and contributing to overall energy demand.
As building fabric continues to improve offering highly insulated spaces, hot water demand represents an increasing share of total energy used in our homes. A well designed solar thermal system can offer a year-round contribution to hot water demand.
A solar thermal system can work well with a biomass system reducing the need to keep the biomass boiler running during the summer months. As any biomass boiler needs a large enough thermal store to hold the energy produced when the boiler is lit, this same store can be used during the summer to store solar energy. The biomass system can be timed to top up the temperature in the thermal store in the evening if required ensuring that solar gains are maximised.
Support under the RHI scheme is currently available for Non-Domestic solar thermal systems. Support for Domestic solar thermal systems is restricted to systems supplying hot water only with no contribution to space heating allowed. However, we believe solar thermal is still worth considering for all the above reasons and although you cannot claim RHI for solar energy going into a thermal store, you can run it alongside your RHI approved biomass system to reduce your wood fuel costs. After all, the Domestic RHI only runs for 7 years, solar thermal could be reducing your fuel costs long after that.