Solar energy industry gives luke-warm welcome to reform of renewable heat initiative

The Solar Trade Association has given a lukewarm welcome to the UK government commitment to renew the Renewable Heat Initiative.

The RHI will provide £1.15bn of funding in 2020/21 and will also be reformed with a focus on value for money, saving around £700 million.

However, the British solar thermal market has suffered since 2011, due to years of delay in introducing the Renewable Heat Incentive and insufficient levels of support. The market has collapsed from 30,000 solar thermal installations in 2010 to just 6,000 so far this year.

Kathy McVeigh, an STA Director and Managing Director of Northern Ireland-based solar thermal business Cool Sky, commented: “It’s not clear yet exactly where these savings come from.

“There will also be budgetary caps providing a backstop on expenditure, meaning that if the forecast expenditure reaches the agreed budget, the Secretary of State will be able to take action to suspend the scheme to new applications.

“We welcome the fact that the Renewable Heat Incentive will remain. However deployment to date of solar thermal under the RHI has been disappointing.

“We look forward to working with DECC to implement some of the measures we have recommended to increase the uptake of solar thermal, including making it eligible on new build, removing the need for a Green Deal assessment and providing support for solar space heating and hybrid PV and thermal.

“We need to make sure that plumbers and heating engineers are offering solar thermal as an add-on whenever they quote for a new boiler, and the Government needs to help get this message out far and wide.”

Pixie Energy

Pixie logo Pixie Energy is an incubator and a facilitator of strategic research and project work, focusing on energy regulation, policy and markets at the local and national level. Find out more about Pixie Energy here.

Local Energy Matters: Scotland

Local Energy Matters: Scotland is a free-to-download brochure with a focus on energy tariffs in the two Scottish electricity distribution regions, as well news on local energy and low-carbon schemes.

Previous editions can be download here.

Scottish energy market overview

You can read an overview of the Scottish energy market here.

Scottish Government energy feed