Pressure grows for heat strategy

The government should introduce stable, long-term incentives to promote sustainable heat, according to a "manifesto" produced by the Green Alliance.1

Over thirty businesses, trade associations and NGOs have signed the manifesto including the Energy Saving Trust, the Institution of Civil Engineers and the Renewable Energy Association.

The manifesto calls on the government to develop a strategy for sustainable heat, covering everything from biomass boilers to district heating networks.

It should include direct revenue incentives, with payments based on metered heat output. Capital grants should be offered as an alternative for household installations. They should be based on rated heat output.

The manifesto also calls on the government to set targets for renewable and low-carbon heating supply, and microgeneration, within the next 18 months.

The planning system should be used to promote renewable heat, it adds, while building regulations should be strengthened to increase the thermal performance of buildings and so lower heat demand.

Local authorities should also be "expected" to develop energy strategies that take account of heat, the manifesto continues. In areas of sufficient heat density, these should encourage the development of district heating networks.

The manifesto also calls for the role of the energy regulator, Ofgem, to be redefined so that it considers the impact of its decisions on the heat market.

The manifesto is the latest broadside to be fired at the government’s heat policies. Last year, the Environmental Audit Committee said the government’s bioenergy policy was "so lacking in ambition" it called into question its commitment to tackling climate change (ENDS Report 381, p 52 ).

The government’s own Biomass Task Force and the Carbon Trust have also called for increased support for biomass heat (ENDS Reports 370, pp 18-19 ).

Heating is responsible for nearly a third of the UK’s carbon dioxide emissions. Just 1% of heat demand is currently met through renewable sources.