Scottish Government presses the case for renewable heat

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Scottish Energy Minister Fergus Ewing (pictured) is campaigning for Scottish businesses who are losing out due UK Government indecision on the future of the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI). The RHI is a UK Government environmental programme that provides financial incentives to increase the uptake of renewable heat.

Star Renewable Energy are a Glasgow based company that install water source heat pumps, a low carbon technology that extracts heat from water sources to heat buildings efficiently. They have already seen some schemes delay decisions about capital investment until there is further certainty on whether or not the RHI will continue beyond March 2016.

Mr Ewing is pressing the UK Government to commit to the long term sustainability of the RHI which they have so far refused to do and has written to UK Energy Secretary Amber Rudd asking for urgent clarification.

The Scottish Government has set an ambitious target for 11 per cent of non-electrical heat demand to come from renewable sources by 2020.

Renewable Heatpump expert Dave Pearson of Star Renewable Energy said: “Our company has been involved in major projects across Europe and we have seen how low carbon heat has the ability to provide warmth to houses, offices and factories in even the coldest of climates like Norway.

“In the UK we are now seeing increasing interest from large scale projects in utilising water source heatpumps to heat homes and businesses. Our company has participated in feasibility studies, supported by the UK Government, for tens of millions of pounds of potential UK projects which could be scrapped if the RHI isn’t confirmed. We have already seen some schemes delay decisions about capital investment until they have some certainty on whether or not the RHI will continue beyond March 2016.

“The RHI is a world class incentive scheme, and it is imperative that it continues. If funding is maintained beyond March 2016, I’d like to see pre-accreditation of all large scale projects in order to drive the market.”

Mr Ewing said: “The Scottish Government believes that development of a sustainable renewable heat industry will be a key factor in helping Scotland meet its climate change targets and provides huge business opportunities. I was pleased that 2014 saw the biggest rise in heat capacity generated from renewable sources in Scotland – an increase of 42 per cent from the year before.

“Our target remains challenging and will require us to use all the levers at our disposal, particularly the RHI. Without continuation of the Renewable Heat Incentive, or a substantive replacement, there will be a substantial impact on renewable heat businesses and jobs in technologies, with disastrous results for the future of these Scottish businesses.

“The uncertainty from the UK Government has been going on too long now and it is time to provide clarity for this industry.”

Dr Sam Gardner, Head of Policy at WWF Scotland said: “Over 50 per cent of our carbon emissions and energy use comes from heating our buildings and water yet we’re still only delivering around 4 per cent of that heat from renewables.

“That’s why we need to see strong efforts from the Scottish Government to tackle the energy efficiency of our leaky homes and drive the uptake of renewable heat and district heating systems to cut bills, enhance energy security and reduce climate pollution.

“In the run up to the Holyrood election next year, we’re calling on all parties to commit to introducing a Warm Homes Act that brings clean and affordable warmth to households and businesses by growing district and renewable heat.  This call echoes the recommendation from Scottish Renewables that  more needs to  be done to establish a regulatory framework designed to support market growth in renewable and low-carbon heat and increase investor and consumer confidence.”