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page 28 winter 2010 Business Footprint 11News focusThe supermarkets and manufacturers argue that these are extreme examples of a system which is generally sensible in environmental terms.The carbon footprint of a large number of short journeys in smaller vehicles might well be greater than the footprint of fewer journeys in larger lorries to and from these depots. Tesco, for instance, claims that it maximises vehicle loads and backhauls waste or goods from its suppliers to its distribution centres. On the face of it, however, there must be room for improvement. According to Professor Tim Lang of City University, who originally coined the term "food miles", the food industry accounts for a quarter of all wagons on British roads and half of them are empty.He believes that the comparatively low price of oil has encouraged companies to transport their goods longer distances than they should. The food miles argument is not a straightforward one. For instance, it looks bad for the environment to transport green beans thousands of miles from Kenya by air.However, if the vegetables are being grown organically with minimum use of fertiliser, low-tech irrigation and virtually no mechanisation, then their carbon impact might be much lower than that of beans grown much nearer home. The income from the beans is also very valuable to the economy of an African country.There are other examples of food exports from developing regions which are less desirable. The development charity Progressio recently highlighted the asparagus which is grown in Peru for western markets.It is produced on an industrial scale in a very dry area known as the Ica valley. As a result the water table has dropped considerably, causing huge problems for local farmers growing crops for their own domestic market. All of this has to be set against a wider backdrop; food production in the world is slowing down while populations rise.We are all going to have to modify our diets to avoid eating too much food like meat and dairy products that is produced through heavy energy consumption.There is a great deal to be said for farmers' markets. Better still we can go back to growing more of our own food. After all, nobody is going to send the runner beans from their back garden on a round trip of 350 miles to their kitchen.Solar Power has become an attractive investment. Since the introduction of the Feed In Tariff, electricity suppliers are able to pay a premium rate of up to 41.3 pence per unit for the electricity produced by a solar power system. In an uncertain economy , no other investment can offer a 6-12% p.a. low risk return on investment, contracted for 25 years, index linked, tax free.But can you be sure that your investment in solar power really will deliver the predicted returns?A term that is commonly used in the renewable energy sector is 'Bankability'. According to the Collins English Dictionary bankability means 'dependable or reliable, a bankable promise'. A major UK bank recently summarised its criteria for assessing the 'bankability' of a solar power installation as Quality, Quality, Quality.... 33Quality of design33Quality of components33Quality of installationThis applies equally to the solar power system that you install in your home or business. So how can Electrassure Solar help you to achieve this exacting standard? As an MCS Approved Installer we follow assessed and certified quality processes at all stages. We offer:ÎÎState of the art solar design software to match the solar panels and the inverter to each other and to local climate conditions; it plans the layout of the panels on your roof and presents it to you along with predictions of the output of the system. ÎÎBranded components, preferably manufactured in the UK or EU by established companies with a dependable warranty and local support. ÎÎA professional roofing team to mount the panels on your roof; electrical components commissioned by experienced solar-qualified NICEIC approved electricians.Not the cheapest, rarely the most expensive, just the best solution. We have learned from long experience of installing and maintaining complex electrical systems that with this approach everybody wins. You get a system that you can rely on, we get a satisfied customer that tells their friends and colleagues.For more information, please contact;ElectrAssure Solar Business & Technology Centre Bessemer Drive, Stevenage, Herts. SG1 2DXTel: 01438 310172 Email: loyd_davies@electrassure-solar.comSolar Power: can it really deliver?

12 Business Footprint winter 2010 news focusIt's a high returning investment thanks to changes in legislationNew legislation means that businesses can now make money from installing green electricity generating systems on their premises - while helping the environment at the same time, according to consultants Ingleton Wood.Ingleton Wood advises many businesses from its office in the East of England and the company says it's an expert on the new Feed in Tariffs legislation and installing green technology."The new Feed in Tariffs are payments from the energy company for every KWh or electricity generated by renewable systems, such as wind turbines and solar panels," says Robert Diamond, sustainability associate at Ingleton Wood.The law changed at the beginning of the financial year 2010 to make bigger pay outs to businesses who install green technology. It means that installing green energy at your business premises can bring a 12 per cent return - far higher than most banks or building societies."Further payments are also made for any surplus electricity you generate that is fed back into the national grid," says Mr Diamond."There are also substantial savings to be made on electricity bills by using the electricity at source," he adds.Feed in Tariff payments are made for 25 years from the date that a system is installed. "Until this change in the law it might take 100 years or more for green energy to pay for itself when you install a wind turbine or solar panels in your premises."Now, it will pay back in a dramatically shorter time - eight to 12 years - and after that can start earning a business money when the set up costs are paid off. Free electricity is provided and the Government continues paying even though costs are covered," says Mr Diamond."It's such an excellent investment opportunity that many banks are now offering loans to encourage people to invest in green technology - because they know pay back is guaranteed by the government and it's a safe investment.Ingleton Wood installed a wind turbine at their office in Colchester and originally expected it to pay for itself in about 100 years."Now thanks to the 'feed in tariff" it will pay for itself in jus t 12 years"Germany has had a similar system for many years - two decades and mini wind turbines and solar panels, green energy has proliferated in business premises."In Germany you see this type of technology and with this UK businesses are likely to follow suit. It's good for the environment but it is also a sound business investment.'For example, installing a wind turbine would cost about £10k and would pay for itself in approximately 10 years. Photovoltaic solar panels would cost about £12k with pay back in about nine years."The return on investment is so good that banks will now give loans for installing green energy because of the excellent pay back," says Mr Diamond. "It's a safe venture because if you install this technology you are guaranteed payments from the government for 25 years, so safe banks are getting involved and giving loans for it."Greening your business premises