Star Renewables walks away from major project over RHI fears

Dave Pearson, Director, Star Renewable Energy
Dave Pearson, Director, Star Renewable Energy

BY DARA BUTTERFIELD

Star Renewable Energy has walked away from a major project that had £1 million in support from the DECC because of uncertainties over the future of the renewable heat incentive (RHI).

Recent cuts to renewable subsidies has generated fears over the future of the RHI. These uncertainties has caused Glasgow-based Star Renewable Energy to walk away from a major contract that had £1 million of support from the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC).

The company’s technology was branded as “game-changing” by former Energy Secretary Ed Davey just 16 months ago but now the Director of Star Renewable Energy has said that the tech “may die before it had a chance”.

David Pearson, Director, Star Renewable Energy, said: “The teams at DECC and the Heat Network Delivery Unit should be commended, and the vision of the Borough of Islington recognised as well.

“We walked away from £1million in support and that was a bitter disappointment especially given the hard work done by the team including specialist consultants Phil Jones and Chris Dunham whose work had shown lower cost, lower carbon and zero local emissions.

“Ultimately we were unsure of the continuance of the RHI and this was a factor in our withdrawn.”

In the wake of plans to abolish subsidies to the wind and solar electricity production sector, Star Renewable Energy is urging the government to leave heat pump funding for heating technology unscathed while the technology becomes understood.

With only 1% of the expected renewable heat uptake being achieved with heat pumps, the company has said that funding is essential to promote the acceptance and introduction of large scale heat pumps in the UK market.

Professor Paul Younger, Glasgow University, said, “As it is so often the case, other countries saw the light earlier than us, and heat-pump technology built on the Clyde is now heating other European cities by extracting thermal energy from rivers. Meanwhile our rivers flow by, delivering their renewable thermal content to the open ocean unused while so many people in the UK cannot afford to heat their homes”.

While the government has not yet confirmed that it will be making changes to the Renewable Heat Incentive, through which this exciting technology is supported, however it has not mentioned any plans to extend the subsidy beyond March 2016. It is this lack of clarity which is so concerning for the industry.

While the tender withdrawal is a major disappointment for Star Renewable Energy, the incident has inspired the company to continue advocating for change. They have highlighted the need for the government to layout another four years of Renewable Heat Incentives as well as remove project risks such as the inability to pre-qualify for funding.

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