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Barriers leave UK lagging on renewable heat

Heating currently represents 55% of the average annual commercial energy bill and 78% of the average domestic energy bill.

The Department of Energy and Climate Change has predicted a 20% rise in gas prices before the end of the decade. Heating contributes 38% to the UK’s total CO2 output, making it the main culprit of this country’s greenhouse gas emissions.

There is one fact: renewable heating solutions are cheaper to run than fossil fuel systems. Biomass boilers and heat pumps can save more than 45% on bills.

Renewable heating may not be for everybody and the savings will not all be the same. Biomass boilers and heat pumps do require space, so are suitable for a number of business types. Those that are ripe for switching are currently off the grid, using oil or electricity for their heating source. The non-domestic element of  the Renewable Heat Incentive was launched in 2011 and the domestic scheme is due to launch this spring.

The added benefit for those participating is that the government also pays participants per kWh for the amount of heat produced. This is of huge importance to businesses that are constantly monitoring overheads and looking for ways to become as cost-efficient as possible.

Cost awareness

The Renewable Heat Report shows that the main obstruction to renewable heating uptake is the widespread lack of awareness of the costs involved in switching, despite massive savings on energy bills and government incentives.

The other barrier is financial. The original budget set by the government for RHI was £864m and was meant to be put aside until March 2015. Due to delays to both schemes, the deployment has failed to meet initial targets and this money appears to have been lost. Consequently, the budget for 2015/16, announced last year, is some £200m (33%) lower than originally anticipated.

The UK is already lagging and has one of the least developed biomass energy industries in Europe. In Germany, biomass represented 92% of all renewable heat produced in 2010. This has proved it to be a system which provides cleaner, greener and cheaper energy and one that must be given sufficient thought and investment by the government.

Silvio Spiess is chief executive officer at Innasol

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