Leaders from the biomass heat industry including the Wood Heat Association (WHA) and UK Pellet Council (UKPC), who coordinate the Biomass Heat Works! campaign, are urging political parties to recognise the importance of having strong heat decarbonisation polices within their election manifestoes.
Heat accounts for over a third of UK greenhouse gas emissions. The installation of biomass heat boilers has been fundamental in efforts to decarbonise the heat sector, accounting for 85% of non-domestic renewable heat installations, delivering immediate carbon reductions in the hardest to treat areas.
However, the UK is facing a dearth of renewable heat policy with the Renewable Heat Incentive set to close in 2021. This is already impacting the industry with deployment slowing, jobs under threat and skills being lost, all of which is undermining the UK’s ability to realise net zero emissions by 2050.
The UK Pellet Council and Wood Heat Association are therefore asking for the following to be given precedence as key heat decarbonisation priorities by party manifesto writers and potential parliamentary candidates:
- The Renewable Heat Incentive is the primary heat decarbonisation mechanism in Great Britain and is due to expire in 2021. The majority of the renewable heat industry relies on this mechanism to encourage decarbonisation and no plan is in place for its replacement. The Biomass Heat Works! campaign calls for an immediate, time-limited extension to the RHI to keep the industry going as the lack of certainty is already stifling new investment in the sector.
- Implement a more effective taxation system that incentivises the use of biomass heating systems and fuels, while penalising the dirtiest fuels by gradual increases in fuel duties.
- In the medium term, a new mechanism is needed that supports heat decarbonisation past 2021, such as introducing a heat premium feed-in scheme that rewards low carbon heat users across domestic, non-domestic and industrial contexts.
- Provide variable tax benefits to those who live or own properties with high energy efficiency standards and renewable heating installed. This should include rebates on income tax or council tax or discounting stamp duties at the point of sale. This would strengthen the link between energy efficiency and house prices.
- Amend the Energy Savings Opportunity Scheme (ESOS) to focus on carbon emission reductions, rather than just energy savings. This will drive commercial installations of renewable heating systems, such as biomass boilers.
- Provide government backed low interest loans for commercial heating schemes.
- Address barriers to the deployment of district heating, prioritising those fuelled by renewable sources (e.g. biomass CHP).
- Support biomass boilers as a key technology for use in the Future Homes Standard.