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Rainwater harvesting: where are the incentives?

Posted by Barry Nutley on 5 March 2010 at 9:06 am

The recent announcements surrounding the feed-in tariff (FIT) and renwable heat incentive (RHI), are (generally) fantastic news for the renewable industry. But the Government seems to have forgotten about rainwater harvesting.

Whilst technically not a renewable technology, water is still an important resource that needs to be preserved. We need it for almost everything we do.

But what do pioneers of RWH get by way of incentives? Unless you are a business user, where you can claim enhanced capital allowances, you get absolutely nothing. No grants, no additional payments. Nothing, other than the satisfaction of preserving, probably, the most valuable commodity around.

But, do you hear these people complain? No. Unlike the pioneers of solar and wind who will miss out on the full FIT payments, but will still get paid an additional sum, on top of the savings and probably obtained a grant to aid installation? (Let me add, at this point, that I do support your cause!). Probably once the RHI payments are confirmed and it becomes common knowledge, there'll be a petition from the solar thermal pioneers too.

This is not intended to be a rant, but an attempt to make people think. I could go into more details about the (poor) financial benefits of rainwater harvesting (RWH) compared to say solar thermal, but I have covered that in previous blogs.

I would welcome your thoughts on this. Should we start a campaign for better financial rewards for RWH pioneers? But ... should it be just about the money? Or should we really be thinking of the environment?

Picture by Tanais Fox

About the author: Barry Nutley is co-founder and director of Viridis Energie Consultants

If you have a question about anything in the above blog, please ask it in the comments section below.

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4 comments - read them below or add one

Combined Harvesters Ltd

Combined Harvesters LtdComment left on: 4 December 2012 at 8:17 pm



Excellent point.

We, at Combined Harvesters ltd, manufacture Rainwater harvesting systems, and are currently at the end stages of manufacturing a pump free, low maintenance and generally hassle free Raincatcher system.

I don't feel that, unless the incentive in financial, that it will have a great effect, unfortunately.  It seems money really does make the world go round, now more than ever.  And as you say Barry, the solar boom was only such a boom because people where making a lot of money for doing relatively little. 

And a certain level of awarseness on the subject wouldn't go a miss.  At the end of the day, only 3% of the planets water is potable, and 2% of this is frozen.  And the average person flushes 45 litres of this down the toilet every day.


Jemma Tunnington

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H2ecO Ltd

H2ecO LtdComment left on: 28 June 2012 at 2:40 pm

We installed a home-made RWH system on our unit 2 months ago. It consists of a Standard liquid transportation cube with a rainwater backup system and pressure sensitive pump.

It collects water from one side of the building and just runs our 2 toilets, pressure washer for vans and a washing machine we have for staff use.

Since installation, it has pumped out 11 cubic meters and has had 2 cubic meters from the backup system - so 9 cubic meters of rain from the roof.

By my reckoning that has saved us about £41 in water charges and sewerage charges. Multiplying that up to a full year gives us a benefit of around £240.

The cost of installation was about £700 ex labour because we get the containers for very little.

That equates to a payback period of  3 years which, i would suggest doesn't need any incentive.

Of course that's not a commercial system, not buried in the ground so it requires some floor space and doesn't look lovely.

But, even doubling the install price gives a pretty good return and anyone who has read "When the rivers run dry" would realise that not doing things like this isn't really an option. 

Incentives would be good and things certainly need to change but when the government can't maintain a coherent mid term strategy for renewable energy either through the FIT system or the RHI, I don't hold out much hope.

If anyone wants details of how we put it together, I'd be happy to let them know.

Mike Stephenson

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Cathy Debenham

Cathy DebenhamComment left on: 28 June 2012 at 8:45 am

Hi Les. This is an interesting one. I was at a seminar yesterday which was talking about energy use. And because most RWH systems use pumps, they are generally less energy efficient than the water company is at pumping it, so use more electricity. They do, of course, conserve water, and keep your water bill down.

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Les Challen

Les ChallenComment left on: 27 June 2012 at 9:07 am

I have no fewer than 5 rain RWH systems installed to date and about to commence installation of a further 2 to the front of my propery. Being a firm believer of water conservation, I am on a water meter and consider water in the sense of a protective species.

I could not agree more that there should be some degree of Government incentive, especially as I recall there was for garden waste composters some years back. You are absolutely right in drawing attention to this issue and have my full support.

Where do I go now? can you suggest the best authority to write to?

Les Challen


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