Solar power industry issues ‘mayday’ alert over solar thermal energy scheme

solar-trade-association-new-logoThe Solar Trade Association has issued an ‘mayday’ alert to the government over the risk to the UK’s solar thermal sector.

The association has written to new junior Energy Minister, Baroness Lucy Neville-Rolfe, urging her to include solar thermal in the Renewable Heat Initiative.

The STA said: “If the proposal to remove solar thermal from the RHI is implemented, the technology will be at a competitive disadvantage and there is every prospect that the current supply chain will atrophy – together with valuable UK skills and the manufacturing industry where the UK has cutting edge capabilities.

“Solar thermal is an internationally proven technology with the potential to play a major role in decarbonising heat in the UK’s domestic and commercial sectors.

“It is a perfect match for tackling fuel poverty in social housing given its uniquely low running costs. It is also the best heat technology for dense, urban areas where space and air quality may be an issue, as London demonstrates, where solar thermal is the dominant technology for RHI applications.

“As building fabric performance continue to improve, hot water demand represents an increasing share of the energy use in buildings, which makes solar thermal a technology of particular strategic importance.”

The UK currently lags well behind other countries in its use of solar thermal – ranking 44th according to the IEA for installed capacity per capita.

The STA adds: “With continued support from government under the Renewable Heat Incentive solar thermal has the opportunity to contribute to ever-wider range of applications, including district heating, space heating, industrial process heating and valuable integration with other renewable heating technologies.

“The scope for solar thermal to displace fossil heating in industrial process heating is remarkable. Analysis by IRENA shows that solar thermal technologies could technically provide nearly half of heat demand in the industrial sector, displacing large amounts of carbon.

“We urge you to retain solar thermal within the RHI and to ensure that the increasingly diverse applications of solar thermal are fully recognised within the scheme.”

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