Low carbon sector heats up

Stephanie Clark of Scottish Renewables examines the issues surrounding the Scottish government’s forthcoming Heat Generation Policy Statement


2014 is so far shaping up to be an interesting year for the Scottish renewable heat sector.

Ministerial approval of Forth Energy’s plans for a wood-fuelled renewable combined heat and power plant at the Port of Rosyth in January will bring 30MW of renewable heat generation to Fife, along with a further 120MW of electricity capacity.
And one or two imminent dates in the political diary look likely to have great significance for the sector.
One is the launch of the Scottish Government’s Heat Generation Policy Statement. Another is the introduction of the domestic element of the Renewable Heat Incentive. The latter will provide a financial incentive for householders to adopt qualifying systems.
The RHI’s non-domestic phase has been in place since November 2011. DECC figures show Scotland has punched above its weight so far, with 523 installations to date, 18% of the UK total. Small solid biomass boilers continue to make up the majority of applications across the UK, totalling 78% of accredited installations
News on 4 February that 25 projects across Scotland have received almost £3m over the past year towards reducing fuel poverty (via the Scottish Government’s Warm Homes Fund) came as further confirmation of the sector’s important role in Scotland.
Heat makes up around half of Scotland’s energy demand, and a statutory obligation under the Climate Change (Scotland) Act 2009 to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 42% by 2020 (and 80% by 2050) means the race is on to use those technologies in the best ways possible. Further finessing those aims, the Scottish Government’s Climate Change Delivery Plan, announced in the same year, has highlighted the need for “a massive increase in the use of renewable or low carbon heating” in order to achieve “a largely de-carbonised heat sector by 2050”.
Bold aims indeed.
The Scottish Government’s Heat Generation Policy Statement, to be made public in the spring, will aim to provide clarity on the generation of heat within Scotland and lay out the administration’s understanding of how heat is delivered now, both domestically and industrially, as well as setting out scenarios for meeting the country’s ‘heat vision’.
While the policy statement will bring some clarity to the continuing development of the sector, the viability of commercial domestic renewable heat installations was underlined by an announcement from the Department for Energy and Climate Change last July. Payments under the UK Government’s domestic Renewable Heat Incentive scheme, revealed eight months ago (12 July, 2013) will begin to be made in the spring, bringing similar levels of support to householders who generate their own heat as those currently enjoyed by domestic electricity generators under the four-year-old Feed-In-Tariff scheme.
Opportunities for installers under the domestic RHI scheme – part of the world’s first long-term financial support programme for renewable heat – appear to be significant.
These and other opportunities for companies operating in the renewable energy sector will be on the table at Scottish Renewables’ Heat and Bioenergy Conference 2014 on 28 April, when experts from the Combined Heat & Power Association and Community Energy Scotland, among others, will debate topics like the planning and financing of heat schemes. Participants will include industry leaders, public sector representatives and investors.
The event gives a valuable face to this growing sector, one which has the potential to end the misery of cold homes for the 900,000 Scots households in fuel poverty, as well as making a huge contribution to our targets for a carbon-free future.
• For more information on Scottish Renewables’ Heat and Bioenergy Conference 2014, see the website at www.scottishrenewables.com/events/sr-heat-bioenergy-conference-2014/. The event is being held in Perth on 28 April.