The Renewable Energy Association (REA) – the UK’s largest, expanding and not-for-profit industry association for all renewable energy technologies – has welcomed the newly formed Wood Heat Association (WHA) as an affiliate trade association.
Wood heat is the fastest growing source of low carbon heating for UK homes and businesses under the Government’s Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI).
Biomass accounts for 56% of investment and over 90% of energy generation under the scheme between 2010 and 2012, demonstrating its excellent value-for-money. The 700+ companies across the UK wood heat supply chain support approximately 13,500 jobs.
The Wood Heat Association was founded in interim form last year by wood heat companies seeking to establish a single trade body to represent the modern UK wood heating industry, from equipment manufacturers and installers to fuel producers and distributors.
The WHA Interim Board decided to establish the WHA as an affiliate association to the umbrella trade body the REA.
Under the partnership, the WHA will benefit from the REA’s back-office support and proven policy expertise in much the same way as the Solar Trade Association (STA), which affiliated to the REA in 2011.
Dr Nina Skorupska, REA Chief Executive, said: “One of the REA’s key objectives is to empower its members to achieve sustainable growth. As individual technology sectors reach that tipping point, they begin need a more distinct voice to Government and stakeholders, with dedicated resources, to keep the momentum going. We are giving the wood heat industry that extra level of support to achieve exactly that.
“The REA consistently champions the benefits of all renewable energy sources, which all help reduce our reliance on imported and polluting fossil fuels while offering exciting opportunities for jobs and growth in innovative businesses. The WHA will drill down more deeply into the specific benefits of wood heating as a key part of a sustainable bio-based economy, helping households and businesses cut their heating costs as well as their environmental impacts.”
All corporate WHA members will automatically be given membership to the REA’s existing Biomass Heat Group (BHG), and vice versa, with the two groups set to run in parallel until at least 2015. The two groups will work closely together, with the WHA building on the BHG’s expertise in policy to raise standards within the industry and awareness among the general public. The BHG, which already boasts 180 member companies, will also benefit from the new ideas and energy brought by WHA members.
The REA also hosts the UK Pellet Council, which is the UK licence holder for the European ENplus standard for wood pellet fuel quality.
Last week Westminster approved amendments to the non-domestic RHI that will double the tariff for large biomass projects (1MW+) from 1p to 2p kWh. This will boost the market, while retaining the position of biomass as the cheapest source of low carbon heating for the taxpayer. The amendments will also add and improve support levels for a range of other technologies, such as geothermal heating.
Additionally, the launch of the domestic RHI for households last month is expected to raise awareness and drive sales of wood heating equipment and fuel, as well as solar hot water systems and heat pumps. Wood heat and other forms of low carbon, renewable heat are now increasingly economically attractive compared with fossil fuel and electricity-based heating.
Julian Morgan-Jones, Managing Director, South East Wood Fuels and Interim Chairman of the WHA, said: “This is an exciting time for the wood heat industry. Wood heat is rapidly becoming one of the major players in UK renewables. As the industry grows, it is increasingly important to establish a clear identity and a strong voice to Government and stakeholders. The REA is already doing great work here so there’s no need to reinvent the wheel, which is why we are very happy to be working with them.
“Our number one focus is securing the future of the RHI beyond 2016. Beyond that, we are also working to professionalise the industry so it is well equipped to tackle the challenges ahead. An important first step is to raise awareness and standards across the wood heat supply chain: from boiler design, manufacture and installation to the safety, quality and sustainability of wood fuel.”