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Farmers and growers to benefit from renewable heat incentive

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Opportunities for farmers and growers to provide heat services from renewable technologies such as bioenergy, solar and ground source heat pumps are set to grow rapidly, the NFU said today.

This follows the long-awaited announcement of details of the Government’s ground-breaking 860 million Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI). Displacing oil-fired and natural gas heating, as well as coal, the RHI will add to UK energy security at a time of rising costs for heating fuels, while reducing greenhouse gas emissions and making a major contribution to Britain’s obligations under the European Renewable Energy Directive.

NFU chief renewable energy adviser Dr Jonathan Scurlock said: The NFU is pleased to see the RHI scheme introduced this year as it will provide certainty to many potential participants following repeated delays to its launch. With nearly half of Britain’s energy used in the form of heat, it makes sense to drive the uptake of low-carbon heating across a wide range of technologies – many of which have a natural fit with the diversity of our members’ farmer and grower businesses.

We do, however, continue to have concerns that the Department of Energy and Climate Change has not yet recognised the potential of the agricultural sector to supply sustainable bioenergy feedstocks – the Government remains excessively cautious about non-food products from the land. Farmers and growers have a major contribution to make to biomass heating alongside waste management and forestry.

Our initial reaction to the RHI is cautiously optimistic – the scheme may have its flaws right now, but it is a bold initiative, and we will work with the Government and other stakeholders to improve and refine it over time.

The scheme is being introduced in two phases – targeting mostly large non-domestic heat users in the first instance, from July 2011 onwards, with more comprehensive support for households coming in as part of the ‘Green Deal’ in October 2012.

Industry experts expect rural communities in particular to benefit from the RHI, since many ‘off-grid’ homes and businesses not connected to the gas network have a limited and expensive choice of fuels at present.

  • Details of the RHI can be found on the DECC web site
  • Organisations using renewable heat will receive quarterly payments for 20 years from the date they enter the scheme.
  • Eligible renewable heating installed since July 15 2009 will also qualify for RHI support.
  • Like the renewable electricity Feed-In Tariffs, the levels of support available for new entrants to the RHI scheme are expected to decrease in the future, reflecting falling capital and installation costs of the equipment as the industry grows.

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