The recession is providing some surprising comfort for the Co Armagh firm Green Energy Technology.
“We have seen a slowdown, definitely,” says business development manager Damien Phillips. “But, on the flipside, people are making more careful decisions.”
Faced with the increasing costs of domestic heating oil in particular, renewable technologies such as wood pellet stoves, solar panels and biomass boilers look ever more attractive. “People are starting to look more long term,” says Mr Phillips. “One of our cheapest wood pellet systems comes in at about £2,000 and will produce ongoing savings.”
Taking into account increases in Government incentives to produce renewable electricity — a wind turbine could pay for its capital costs through regular payments in three to five years. “The payback time varies, but a wood pellet stove can be over 30% cheaper than using standard kerosene oil heating,” explains Mr Phillips. Using these figures customers can estimate paybacks, he says. Potential customers can see the technology in operation, with a demonstration showhouse open to the public at Waringstown.
“We have got working models of all our technologies in place,” he says. “We have an Austrian wood pellet boiler which provides heating in our office and showroom. Solar panels heat hot water. An air source heat pump provides the majority of the hot water and heating needs in the summer. And solar photovoltaic panels that track the sun around the sky meet over 60% of our electricity needs.”
Mr Phillips adds: “We have a wide range of experience in heat pumps, wood chip and wood pellet heating, solar panels and wind turbines. Demand can be seasonal and sometimes depends on what grants are available. At the moment there is a pretty decent demand for solar water heating — because people look around and see the sun shining. The demand for wind turbines has gone up over 200%.”
Green Energy Technology supplies the domestic, commercial and agricultural markets, with residential demand making up the majority of business.
Within the residential market, there is an even split between customers seeking to retro fit existing properties and others who are equipping new homes.
“Anyone building a new home will know about building standards and the opportunities for using solar and other renewable technologies,” says Mr Phillips.
“But the case for retro fitting can actually be easier to make, because the homeowner already knows the cost of energy and can work out the savings they can achieve.”