Some of the latest kit to specify for low-carbon schemes

When it comes to solar energy technologies, Solar Century is one of the leading companies. It advises on appropriate solutions, supplies the products and organises their installation through a network of approved installers.

It will do this for almost any size of customer, from the individual householder to large public sector developers.

It is also at the leading edge when it comes to innovation. Products developed by the company include the C21e photovoltaic (PV) roof tile, which blends in with the existing roof and doesn’t need planning permission.

At the other end of the scale, the company has just launched a PV solution for industrial roofs. The SB1000 Energy Roof (pictured on this page) is suitable for the flat or shallow pitched roofs typically found on industrial sheds. It consists of freestanding prefabricated panels, each with an output of 1kWp. The company says they have been designed to integrate with the fast-track construction programmes of industrial buildings, and have a clear demarcation between the roofing and electrical element of the installation to make the handover between trades simpler. The modules fit onto the roof using standard roof techniques and the system is lightweight, which should eliminate the need for roof strengthening.

Solar Century

Quiet Revolution is the product arm of low energy consultant XC02. It has bucked convention by developing a helical, vertical-axis wind turbine instead of the more common horizontal bladed types.

The company says turbines with vertical axes perform well in environments with turbulent winds, which is often the case in urban locations. Quiet Revolution says modelling shows that the design should produce between 20% and 40% more power than a horizontal axis turbine in turbulent winds. The helical design is also said to be quieter and less prone to vibration than its bladed competitors.

Currently one turbine is available, the QR5, which has an output of up to 6kW. The company says it will typically generate 10,000kWh at an average windspeed of 5.9m/s. It is suitable for medium sized applications - the turbine is 3m in diameter and 5m high and is designed to be located on a 9m-high mast, or at least 3m above a roof. The company is currently developing two other models, the QR2.5, a 2.5kW turbine that is suitable for domestic applications. It stands 2.5m high, and 2.5m in diameter. Quiet Revolution says it will generate 3,000kWh and 4,500kWh a year on sites with decent wind. It will be available towards the end of this year. The second model is the 30kW QR12, which is 12m high and 6m in diameter. The company says this should generate between 40,000kWh and 50,000kWh a year on a decent wind site. It will be available to order from 2009.

Quiet Revolution

Big heating manufacturers are getting in on the market for renewables and low energy products by launching complete systems. Worcester Bosch has launched a ground-source heat pump system called Greenstore System that collects low grade heat from the ground, and uses it for space and water heating. Although heat pumps are not a renewable energy source, as they require electricity to run, they can provide 3-4kW of heat for every kW of electrical input. If powered by a renewable energy source, heat pumps are an efficient way of heating a home.

Worcester Bosch makes the pump that concentrates the energy collected by liquid circulated through a network of pipes buried in the ground, either horizontally, or vertically. Water is supplied by the heat pump at a maximum of 65°C. This is used to heat a hot water cylinder or is circulated through an underfloor heating system or radiators (oversized to compensate for the relatively low temperature of the water). Three models are available with outputs of 6, 7 and 9kW. Worcester Bosch says the heat pump should be able to provide all the heating needs for the property without a back-up boiler.

Worcester Bosch

The first micro CHP unit to be launched in the UK market will probably be produced by boiler maker Baxi with Stirling engine specialist Microgen Energy. CHP is a technology best suited to whole developments, but micro CHP is aimed at individual homes. The idea is that gas can be used to generate electricity, and the heat produced from it used to heat the home. Baxi claim it can reduce typical household energy bills by 25%, and save 1.5 tonnes of CO2 emissions a year. The wall-mounted unit will contain a Stirling engine capable of generating 1kW of electricity, and a conventional boiler to supply more heat when needed. A range of sizes with heat outputs ranging from 15kW to 36kW will be available, all with the same electrical output. The boiler will be available in standard and combi versions. Baxi says the product will be launched in the first quarter of 2008.


Andrews Water Heaters has launched a solar heating solution called SolarFlo, which is aimed at the commercial market. It consists of glazed, flat-plate solar collectors complete with roof mountings, a pump station and expansion vessels, a control unit and a duplex stainless steel hot-water cylinder. The system heats the water indirectly by way of a water/anti-freeze transfer fluid. The system can be connected to a condensing storage water heater, a continuous direct-fired condensing water heater or a commercial condensing boiler.

Andrews Water Heaters

Whole-house heat recovery systems are an important part of reducing heat loss. The idea is to make the building as airtight as possible and bring fresh air inside through a heat recovery system, which exchanges heat from outgoing, stale air with fresh incoming air. Greenwood Airvac has launched a system called Fusion HRV1 that is suitable for homes up to 100m2 in size. The company says the system is compact and 66% efficient, and fits well into high-density apartment schemes.

Greenwood Airvac

Hoval has added a 50kW biomass boiler to its BioLyt range of wood-pellet-fired boilers. Suitable for commercial applications, the company say it is up to 95% efficient – the boiler only fires when heat is needed. It has a fully automatic pellet feeder and self-cleaning heat exchanger. Running the boiler should be hassle-free as pellets can be delivered in bulk to a storage area and automatically fed to the boiler. The ash tray needs emptying only once or twice in a heating season. Hoval also makes versions with lower outputs, and the boilers can be used in conjunction with the company’s new solar heating package, called Solkit, which is designed to provide up to 81% of a four-person household’s hot water.