DECC Empowers Renewables to Meet UK’s Urgent Heat Security Challenge

Renewables are set to step in to meet the UK’s biggest need for energy - heat.  The UK’s renewable heat industry is poised for rapid growth following the announcement by DECC today of the ambitious Renewable Heat Incentive .  Natural gas is the main energy source for heating in the UK.  This leaves the UK vulnerable as gas reserves decline and we have to rely more heavily on imports.  Experts predict gas prices will be rising again shortly following oil price spikes. 

Rural communities especially stand to benefit from the RHI as it will widen the range of affordable heating options for homes not on the gas grid, where fuel poverty is concentrated.  Business and industrial heat users will be able to protect themselves against rising energy costs and at the same time reduce their carbon footprint. 

The RHI is also a major industrial policy that will result in tens of thousands of new green jobs, in equipment installation and fuel supply, including in the forestry and waste management industries. 

REA Chief Executive, Gaynor Hartnell, said;

"We're thrilled to see the Coalition Government pioneer a new approach to renewable heat and envisage it being adopted elsewhere in Europe.  At last real evidence of ‘the greenest government ever’ delivering on its pledge.

This novel policy should be much more effective than capital grants, as it rewards the production of renewable heat not just the installation of equipment.  It is a revolutionary approach, but absolutely the right one.  We don’t expect the scheme to be 100% perfect from the outset, but we will work with Government to iron out any teething problems.  However it is essential that the support levels published today are sufficient to drive rapid expansion when the scheme goes live in July."

The technologies included under the RHI are solar water heating, wood pellet and woodchip boilers, deep geothermal, biogas burned on site and heat pumps.  There is also a tariff for feeding “biomethane” into the gas grid.  It is envisaged more technologies will be added to the list next year including renewable liquids.

The UK’s performance on renewable heat is almost bottom of the EU league, and catching up with our European neighbours will be a major challenge.  The UK can now start the long-overdue process of decarbonising the energy used for heating buildings, homes, water and industrial processes.

Chris Shearlock, Sustainability Manager at The Co-operative said;

"As a business that has committed to increase its renewables lending to £1bn and will be reducing its carbon emissions by 35% by 2017, The Co-operative welcomes today's announcement on the Renewable Heat Incentive. Government needs to match this level of ambition and ensure that the detail of the RHI creates the right framework to unlock further investment. The Renewable Energy Association has worked hard to get the RHI established and we're proud to have been a member of its campaigning coalition."

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