Motorcycle school is riding on wind after switch to renewables
Not many businesses can boast they can completely depend on their own self-generated, eco-friendly electricity. But for East Yorkshire's RSJ&A Motorcycle Training, its blustery location next to the A1079 has proved the perfect place to rely on its single wind turbine.
Sarah Pearson, who runs the motorcycle training business alongside her husband Russ Pearson, said the site doesn't have electricity supplied by the national grid.
She said: "Our electricity is totally self-sufficient. The power we use is 100 per cent from our turbine.
"We do have a generator as a back-up but there are not many days it's not windy here.
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"The wind turbine has saved us a lot of hassle, as we used to have to charge batteries but what we have got here is ample for what we need."
According to CO2Sense – a low-carbon expert company – on-site renewables are becoming more and more common among businesses but rising fuel prices are just one reason they are becoming more popular.
Jemma Benson, principal consultant at CO2Sense, said: "The Feed-in Tariff (FiT) and Renewable Heat Incentives (RHI) offer payments on energy generated that are index-linked and guaranteed for 20 years.
"These payments can make payback periods for investing in renewable energy far lower and give guaranteed figures for business cases and financial planning for developments."
After gaining planning permission, RSJ&A bought the wind turbine in 2008 from a local supplier.
But it is not just this one green solution that is helping the business. The motorcycle training centre also has a solar panel on the roof.
Sarah said: "I really like the idea of renewable energy and once the equipment is installed, it's not hard to maintain."
The training centre has also made adaptations to its premises to ensure it survives without electricity from the grid.
Sarah said: "We learned to adapt to the situation and we use a gas kettle and gas heating."
Businesses across the region are continuously taking the initiative to lower their carbon footprint and turn to energy saving solutions.
Jackson's Bakery in Hull is generating its own "green" power after installing more than 1,000 solar panels on the roof of its factory.
The 250kW panels are expected to produce 221,000kWh of electricity every year – enough to power 67 houses.
It will be consumed by the Derringham Street bakery, reducing its carbon footprint by about 116 tonnes of CO2 per year.
Gavin Milligan, sustainability director for the William Jackson Food Group (WJFG), which owns the bakery, said that a combination of factors including cost control, reducing carbon and proving an element of resilience in the event of future supply issues through the grid helped the business make its decision to install the panels.
He said: "We take our responsibilities as a corporate citizen seriously and are signatories of the Food And Drink Federation's (FDF) five-fold environmental ambition.
"This includes a commitment to reduce carbon emissions across the FDF membership by 35 per cent by 2020 against a 1990 baseline, ahead of the government's national target of 34 per cent."
There are a number of advantages for businesses that choose to generate their own electricity.
Mr Milligan said: "The immediate-term advantage is reduced electricity consumption from the national grid.
"However, we are at the mercy of daylight hours and, to a lesser extent, weather conditions. It will also take some time for the capital investment to pay back."
C02Sense's Jemma Benson said that with guaranteed payments and protection from rising fuel costs – the appeal of renewables is obvious but what can cause problems for businesses is deciding on the right kind of renewable energy for their company and site.
She said: "Renewable energy is dependent on where it is located and the resources available – a woodfuel boiler, for example, needs to have space to store fuel and take deliveries.
"The changes to the FiT and RHI rates this year have caused some concern in the industry about installing renewables – particularly the rates for solar PV installations being cut significantly.
"However, these incentive schemes still make investing in renewables more attractive, particularly for investing in wind power and anaerobic digestion, which can be an option for businesses that already produce a lot of food and organic waste."
GWE Biogas, a £10m plant near Driffield, has been hailed as a model for more renewables schemes.
CO2Sense invested in the plant, which is now generating enough energy to power about 3,200 homes. And as fuel prices are set to rise – or at least be volatile – having the sort of security on-site generation can bring will be a real asset for businesses.
Mr Megginson, of GWE Biogas, said: "The beauty of this type of renewable generation is that it is constant. We can rely on it to generate what we need.
"It is very important that every company takes responsibility for it energy sources as much as it can and at the moment, we rely on coal and gas which will run out and we need to start planning ahead."