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Solar Heating News 20 June 2011: Scotland WILL be part of Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI).

Filed under: Latest News

Solar thermal panels, solar heating, solar power, RHI, RHIP, RHIPP, Scotland news.

RHI and RHPP are now OK for Scotland!

Scottish householders and business will be delighted to hear that the Renewable Heat Incentive (which is already being rolled out for England and Wales) will be extended to Scotland as well.

Scotland’s Energy Minister, Fergus Ewing has now opted for Scotland to be part of the UK wide Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI), a scheme that will pay large producers of renewable heating for every unit of heat energy produced.

Small renewable heat producers such as householders will also receive support for installing renewable heat technologies such as heat pumps, solar thermal or biomass boilers under the Renewable Heat Premium Payment (RHPP). Some practical issues relating to the supply of wood fuels are still to be clarified.

The move will help Scotland meet its target to produce 11 per cent of heat from renewables by 2020. Around three per cent of Scotland’s heat demand came from renewables last year, three times the UK rate.

Scotland’s confirmation of both RHI and RHPP was welcomed by green energy campaigners. The Scottish Government Press Release is here.

Questions are now being asked about what will happen in Northern Ireland, where a decision to subscribe to the RHI has not yet been made. Northern Ireland householders face some of the highest energy costs in UK.

Barry Johnston, Managing Director of Solar Twin Ltd, welcomed the move, but with reservations, saying: “This announcement will be great for the people of Scotland, provided that three concerns are met;

My concern with solar thermal (solar water heating) subsidy is that gross energy rather then net energy may mistakenly be subsidised under the current flawed RHI proposals. Unfortunately, if gross energy were to be subsidised, then dirtier, mains pumped, solar thermal technologies would end up being over-subsidised because the the fact they they use mains electricity they they used would be ignored, leaving more sustainable technologies such as Solartwin, which use solar electric pumping. Subsidising gross energy rather than net energy would be an environmental disaster as well as a waste of public funds. Scarce public funds simply must not be spent on subsidising the use of mains electric pumps. Unfortunately this appalling waste now seems about to happen.

My concerns with heat pumps are that they offer minimal net carbon-saving benefit over mains gas boilers, according to an Energy Saving Trust study. So they are best used on areas which are not on the grid. However application this then raises the question of how will the electricity grid in remote areas cope with all the extra electricity load in midwinter? Deadly winter power cuts must not be the unintended consequence of heat pumps.

My concerns with wood stoves relate to both air pollution and carbon footprint. First of all, wood burning stoves are demonstrably, and calculably, far less than carbon neutral in their total life cycle. This is because wood burning actually accelerates the release of CO2 into the atmosphere. Also the production, cutting, drying, processing and transport of wood all use up energy. As for air pollution, the air quality in some Scottish cities already exceeds EU air pollution standards at certain times, and so I hope that an lethal increase in deaths from respiratory causes will not be the unintended consequence of installing “good green” wood stoves in built up areas. I think that it might be better to start off by to promoting wood fuels selectively, particularly in rural areas which are close to biomass sources such as forests. In such locations, their fuel transport impacts will be less negative. Also, by being located in rural areas they will also “displace” or   “liberate” electricity from the electricity grid. In this way rural wood stove owners will be able to allow their neighbours’ power-hungry heat pumps to operate without fear of power cuts in the depths of winter.”


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