Eighty two per cent of people in the UK have never heard of district heating. Almost two-thirds have never heard of heat pumps. And more than a quarter have never heard of renewable heat at all. The Department of Energy & Climate Change’s (DECC) latest survey of 2,105 Britons, released last month (26 April), makes sobering reading for anyone involved in the renewable heat sector. A day earlier, the same department closed its consultation into the future of the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI). Reading the stark figures, it would be easy to wonder why they’re bothering. But decarbonising our heat sector is crucial. More than half the energy we use is in the form of heat. While keeping warm has always been important, doing so in a low-carbon, sustainable way has never been more so. The heat pump sector alone already employs 3,100 people in Scotland. All that could start to unravel, however, if cuts and changes to the RHI are carried out in the way the UK government is currently proposing. RHI tariff rates and structures look set to change – with some sectors hit harder than others. Solar thermal, for example, could see itself out in the cold: DECC wants to remove it from the RHI altogether. The particular strengths of solar thermal include that it has negligible running costs, can be added to existing heating systems and its performance does not depend on investing in a highly-insulated house, making it particularly well suited to homes in fuel poverty.
Scotsman 31st May 2016 read more »