To help expand the adoption of renewable energy systems amongst its members The Horticultural Trades Association (HTA) has, as part of its Cost Reduction Programme (CRoP) initiative, partnered with renewable energy specialist, Ecovision, which operates nationally from its base on the Highgrove Estate.

The partnership’s aim is to raise awareness of how renewable energy can reduce costs, at the same time as increasing competitiveness and profitability across the nursery and garden center industries.

“Ever increasing energy costs has meant that over the last two years the cost of heating nurseries and garden centres has risen significantly,” said Tim Bell, the HTA’s Commercial Manager. “Installing renewable energy solutions can play a key role in enabling our members to become completely independent of the big six energy companies and their volatile energy prices, allowing them to take control of and reduce their energy costs.”

“The HTA represents 95% of the UK garden centre industry plus many of the growers that provide plants to the sector. The HTA membership is made up of 1,100 members with 2,500 garden outlets,” explained Chris Adcock, Ecovision’s Managing Director. “If 30% of the HTA membership adopted renewable heating technology we estimate that would be worth over £10 million per annum to garden centre owners and growers in the form of government income and reduced heating costs.”

It has never been a better time for HTA members to be looking at renewable energy as the tariffs available from the Government’s Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) are at their peak.

Under the RHI the Government is encouraging users to replace existing fossil fuel heating systems such as oil, LPG and gas with one of the supported renewable technologies, which include ground and air source heat pumps and biomass boilers, by paying a tariff for every kilowatt hour of heating generated by a renewable energy.

The RHI tariffs will be adjusted upwards for inflation and index linked payments are then made quarterly for the next 20 years.

“Using a traditional oil fired boiler to heat and provide hot water to a garden centre of 2,000 m2, costs in the region of £20,000 a year in oil,” explained Chris Adcock, Ecovision’s Managing Director. With an investment of around £80,000 it is possible to switch from an oil fired boiler to a renewable energy 125kW biomass boiler system and make a combined saving against previous oil costs, plus the RHI tariff, of around £25,000 a year.

“Based on returns often in excess of 20% per annum, payback is typically achieved in five years or less. The RHI tariff will continue to be paid, providing a regular income!” said Adcock.

“The Horticultural industry prides itself on its green credentials and the use of renewable energy will not only help our members to reduce their energy bills, it will also help them to reduce their carbon emissions,” concluded Bell.

Under the RHI the Government is encouraging users to replace existing fossil fuel heating systems such as oil, LPG and gas with one of the supported renewable technologies, which include ground and air source heat pumps and biomass boilers.