Enhance company profits

Enhanced Capital Allowances (ECAs) allow companies purchasing energy efficient equipment from an approved list to reclaim the full capital allowance against tax in the first year. The scheme has just been extended to include space heating equipment. Simon Hartles, of Ambi-Rad Ltd, looks how this will affect industrial users.

Industrial companies can now expect greater tax benefits from their investment in new capital heating equipment. The extension of the Enhanced Capital Allowance (ECA) scheme to space heating appliances, scheduled to be ratified by the government in October, complements the Climate Change Levy by enabling firms to claim the maximum tax relief on both the capital and installation costs of new energy-efficient heating technology.

Space heating

Space heating – by radiant or convection heaters which burn fuel at the point of use – is the proven method of heating large industrial and commercial buildings efficiently. Overhead gas-fired radiant heaters, for example, are both highly effective and are more carbon-efficient than boiler-based heating systems. Gas-fired warm air unit heaters are also more carbon efficient than boiler systems since they eliminate energy losses associated with circulating hot water.

The costs of installing electronic or optimising controllers for the space heating system are also covered by the ECA scheme. Either stand-alone units or those incorporated into the existing building management system are eligible.

The ECA-qualifying thermal efficiency thresholds for radiant and warm air heating systems are set towards the very top end of technology available – at 89 per cent for warm air heaters, 82 per cent for radiant heaters with individual flues on each burner, and 90 per cent for multi-burner or continuous radiant tube heating. Individual radiant heaters must also have a radiant efficiency rating of at least 52.5 per cent.

These figures will become even more stringent within the next two years when the government revises its targets for carbon emissions reduction.

Increase in efficiency

The ECA scheme puts increased emphasis on manufacturers to develop ever more efficient products. Some heating manufacturers, including Ambi-Rad, have responded to the government’s carbon reduction challenge by developing even higher performance heaters with thermal efficiencies of up to 15 per cent more than conventional units. Some newer heating technologies are 100 per cent fuel efficient.

The opportunity now exists for industrial companies to install energy-efficient space heating equipment that consumes considerably less fuel than standard technology.

Ironically, the ECA scheme means that end-users actually pay less for more expensive, higher performance equipment. As well as the capital allowance, they also reap the benefit of on-going reductions in fuel costs. For example, high performance radiant tube heating has been shown to save up to 70 per cent of running costs in some decentralisation projects.

The all-round economic and environmental advantages of the ECA scheme are clear. Everyone benefits – end-users, consultants, contractors, manufacturers and, of course, the environment.

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