Government’s Reform To Heat Decarbonisation Is A Positive Step Forward

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Black Rock Solar photovoltaic array at Food Bank of Northern Nevada by BlackRockSolar via flickr

Today’s announcement for the reforms to the UK’s Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) scheme, the leading policy for heating system decarbonisation, has been tentatively welcomed by the Renewable Energy Association.

Reforms announced today to the UK’s Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) scheme, the flagship policy for the decarbonisation of the heating system, are being cautiously welcomed by the Renewable Energy Association.

Changes to the scheme were proposed in a public consultation in March. At that time, the renewable heat industry was deeply concerned that the revised tariffs would result in a steep fall in the deployment of many renewable heat technologies. Proposed tariff reductions of 45% for parts of the biomass heat sector, for example, were projected by the Government to lead to a 98% drop in installations.

Other technologies, such as solar thermal, were to be removed from the RHI altogether. The proposals resulted in significant outcry from sectors of the renewables industry.

The REA’s analysis of the Government’s finalised scheme, released today, indicates that the reformed Renewable Heat Incentive moves us closer to the UK meeting it’s legally binding 2020 renewable heat target. However, there will be certain key sectors which will struggle, including biogas and non-domestic biomass boilers.

Dr. Nina Skorupska CBE, Chief Executive at the Renewable Energy Association said:

“The reforms made today to the Renewable Heat Incentive are an improvement to the earlier consultation and will go some way to grow an effective renewable heat sector in some cases to 2021. As recognised in this consultation response, heat is a very complex issue and we need all technologies on board to achieve our long-term goals. Renewable gas, biomass boilers, solar thermal, heat pumps, heat networks, hydrogen and other technologies will all have a role to play.

“The next step is for Government to lay out a long-term energy strategy so industry can prepare for low-carbon heat deployment in the 2020’s and 2030’s. As of now, this policy only takes us to 2021 and there is little indication of the Government’s vision beyond.”

John Baldwin, Chair of the Renewable Energy Association’s biogas group and Managing Director of CNG Fuels said:

“The biomethane tariff reset is most welcome. Government has acknowledged the strategic role biomethane can play across heat and transport and the resetting of the biomethane tariffs should enable continued deployment of the most competitive projects.

“Unfortunately, the biogas combustion tariff isn’t likely to enable many new biogas CHP projects to come forward. With the closure of the RO, and rapidly falling tariffs for the Feed-In Tariff, this sector still faces many challenges.”