Solar heat industry “will atrophy without support from Renewable Heat Incentive”

The Solar Trade Association (STA) has written to energy minister Baroness Neville-Rolfe, urging her to retain solar thermal within the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI).

The letter was co-signed by 21 organisations, representing the solar industry, local government, manufacturers, housing providers, land owners, and environmental campaigners. They argue that the technology should not be unfairly disadvantaged by being removed from the scheme and that the diverse application of solar thermal should be fully recognised.

Paul Barwell, STA Chief Executive, commented: “The industry was shocked, in March, when the Government proposed removing solar thermal from the RHI, whilst retaining support for heat pumps and biomass. Now, six months later, the industry is still in limbo as it waits for the Government’s response. We are confident that the Solar Trade Association made a compelling case to support solar thermal and hope the Government rethinks their proposal. However it is urgent that we get a decision quickly to end this uncertainty.”

The letter reads: “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.”

Instead of cutting solar thermal from the RHI the organisations signing the letter argue that the Government should expand the number of applications of solar thermal allowed.

If the proposal to remove solar thermal from the RHI is implemented there is every prospect that the current supply chain will atrophy, together with valuable UK skills and manufacturing capacity, the STA said.

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Subscriber only content: The New Power Interview: Keith Maclean, Chairman, UK Energy Research Centre – Keith MacLean tells Janet Wood the biggest challenges in decarbonisation, including heat, have to be addressed and industry governance must change. 

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