UK Renewable Heat Policy: Lessons from Renewable Electricity Policy

Peter M. Connor  University of Exeter

According to figures presented by the UK’s Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (BERR) in 2007, the demand for heat accounts for almost half of all UK energy consumption, and for 79% of non-transport related energy consumption. This translates to around 47% of UK CO2 emissions, making heating a major contributor to the UK’s climate change emissions. Despite this, the focus for renewable energy policy in the UK, as well as in the large majority of other nations which have developed policy, has tended to focus, often exclusively, on electrical generation. While there may be a number of explanations for this, a switch to more sustainable sources of heat offers many of the same advantages with regard to reduced environmental impact, increased security of supply and all he other benefits that go with renewable electrical generation.

This paper considers the particular needs of RES-H technologies in terms of the policy instruments which might best suit their growth. It considers what lessons might be learned from experience with RES-E whilst also emphasising the key differences which have the potential to undermine the application of instruments from one category to the other. The diverse needs of different RES-H technologies are considered, with particular attention to the often conflicting nature of their requirements for support. Critical assessment of the problems of transferring mechanisms wholesale from employment in support of RES-E to efforts to support RES-H is carried out.

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