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Multi-technology approach needed for heat decarbonisation, says REA

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The UK Government’s long-awaited Heat and Buildings Strategy has been welcomed by the renewable energy sector, but does not address the need for a multi-technology approach to heat decarbonisation.

While the Association for Renewable Energy and Clean Technology (REA) described the newly published strategy is ‘good news’ for domestic heat decarbonisation, it also warned about the growing ‘policy vacuum’ for industrial decarbonisation.

The increased funding attached to the Boiler Upgrade Scheme will also boost the affordability of low-carbon home heating measures, such as heat pumps and biomass boilers, while removing VAT on these technologies – as advocated by an REA-led industry coalition recently, could further increase uptake.

However, the REA also reiterated its call for a multi-technology approach to domestic and industrial heat decarbonisation, with a need for greater roles for biomethane, clean hydrogen, biomass, bio-propane, heat pumps, deep geothermal and other low-carbon heat technologies.

“This strategy offers some good news, particularly on the ‘heating our homes’ front,” said Frank Gordon, director of policy at the REA.

“The £450 million (€532 million) Boiler Upgrade Scheme offering £5,000 (€5,900) grants and the ambition for all new heating systems to be low-carbon from 2025 are significant and will go some way to help the move away from our over-resilience on fossil gas boilers.

“The government’s pledge to work with industry to drive down costs will also make this transition much more affordable for many people.”

The REA is also advocating for a removal of VAT on domestic renewables and clean technologies to help reduce the carbon and bills burden from UK homes.

“If the government took this sensible step, it would open up access even further and provide a major catalyst to the sector,” commented Gordon.

“However, it is disappointing that the industrial side of heat decarbonisation has again received less attention. In lieu of a replacement for the Non-Domestic Renewable Heat Incentive, a major policy vacuum has opened up a time when the drive towards industrial heat decarbonisation should have been intensifying.

“This strategy does little to close that gap and its year-long delay has curtailed the renewable heat sector’s routes to market.”