Outcry at Government proposal to drop solar thermal from UK renewables push

STA Solar Trade Association logoThe Government has published a consultation proposing to end support for solar thermal hot water heating meaning that, if the proposals go through, the technology will be cut out of the Renewable Heat Incentive entirely next year.

This is yet another cut to renewables subsidies after the House of Commons Energy and Climate Change committee heavily criticised the Government for damaging investor confidence in UK energy infrastructure.

The proposal comes after repeated statements from Energy Secretary Amber Rudd that renewable heat is the major focus for UK renewables policy given the UK is off track on its 2020 renewables targets. In 2014 green sources provided only 4.8% of the UK’s heat, which puts the UK way behind its self-imposed target of 12% renewable heat by 2020.

The Solar Trade Association says that solar thermal is one of the most established and accessible renewable energy technologies with over 350GW of global capacity, considerably more than the global capacity for solar PV.

Its applications have expanded into space heating, community heating, district heating, hotels, hospitals and industrial processes and solar thermal also works effectively alongside other renewables technologies.

Paul Barwell, CEO of the Solar Trade Association, commented: “This proposal simply doesn’t make sense. The Government acknowledges the many benefits of solar thermal, yet proposes singling it out for the removal of financial support. With UK renewable heat deployment falling desperately behind target, Government should be full-square behind this technology as part of a strategic plan to permanently bring down heating costs for British families.”

The Solar Trade Association is calling on the Government to allow solar thermal to contribute not just to hot water but also space heating and still qualify for the Renewable Heat Incentive, so that the technology can be combined with biomass boilers and heat pumps.

It says that now is the time to ramp up support, not remove it; red tape has hindered the roll out of solar thermal and the STA is asking Government to remove this.

Mr Barwell continued: “Discriminating against this globally important technology in the UK would send a terrible message to householders, and it would have very serious ramifications for the British solar thermal sector. Manufacturers of solar thermal equipment, including cylinder manufacturers as well as installers, risk a full-scale winding-up of their sector.

“We are urging Government to think again, particularly since sales enquiries are on the rise.”

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