On 20 October 2010, after a comprehensive review of Great Britain’s Government Spending, it was announced that the long-awaited Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) will launch in June 2011. The RHI will provide financial support for those who install renewable heating systems, and will support a range of technologies including solar thermal, biomass boilers, combined heat and power, biogas, bioliquids, geothermal and the injection of bio-methane into the natural gas grid.
In a speech made by the British Chancellor George Osborne in the Houses of Parliament, the new Coalition Government stated its commitment to the development of “research and technological innovation [which] will also help us with one of the greatest scientific challenges of our times – climate change – and it will support new jobs in low-carbon industries”. In addition to the RHI, the Government also committed itself to proceed with the idea of a Green Investment Bank. The stated aim of these investments is “for Britain to be a leader of the new green economy. Creating jobs, saving energy costs, reducing carbon emissions.” For the full speech see the BBC website (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-11585941).
The UK newspapers, such as The Guardian, believe that the Government announcements for green energy are largely disappointing. They describe the Green Investment Bank project as “not looking at all good”. However, there is positive atmosphere about the RHI, which they believe should provide Pound Sterling (GBP) 400 million for green energy heating schemes. This the journalist calls “a good win. […] RHI should deliver more emissions-reducing bang-per-buck than both the renewables obligation and feed-in tariffs for power generator, but there is a question over whether the rate of the incentive will be high enough to encourage decent take-up. Lastly, after 11 reports and consultations over eight years it is definitely about time something actually happened.” The Guardian article can be found here: (http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/blog/2010/oct/20/spending-review-green-checklist).
The British Solar Trade Association (STA) have released a statement welcoming the Government’s continued commitment to the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) and the end this has brought to the speculation of imminent renewable energy cuts. The STA have reported “considerable relief in the solar industry that investment and jobs have been protected […]. The confirmation of the RHI also gives renewed growth for the solar thermal industry after the funding cuts to grant programme which happened in the first week on the Coalition Government.”
The STA will be actively working with the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) to ensure that “a simple and deliverable heating scheme is developed” which will “fully support solar thermal technologies. The full statement can be found on the STA website (http://solar-trade.org.uk/news.cfm?id=33).
The key aspects of the original consultation of the RHI can be recorded here. Many questions remain on how the RHI scheme will fairly reward all the different heat technologies including solar heat for hot water, space heating, swimming pools, industry process and if air collectors will be included.