Aberdeen City and Shire key driver for renewable heat incentive

An abundance of natural fuel resources acrossAberdeenCityand Shire, combined with the region’s energy expertise, could play a major role in driving forward the success of the industry’s Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI), according to Aberdeen Renewable Energy Group (AREG).

The RHI is the first initiative of its kind in the world. Designed to accelerate the installation of renewable energy capacity in the UK, it is a Government scheme which offers a fixed payment for individuals and organisations who generate their own heat from renewable sources such as biomass, solar or heat pumps.

Iain Todd, AREG’s renewables champion and chair of the Grampian Biomass Working Group, said: “The launch of this mechanism is essential if we are to meet our 2020 renewables targets. It enables us to make proper use of our natural resources and create thousands of jobs across theUKin a vibrant new sector and assist in efforts to reduce fuel poverty.

“Both AREG and Grampian Biomass Working Group believe that Aberdeen City and Shire can play a major role in helping to achieve this. With such a vast resource of woodfuel in the region, we are well placed to take full advantage of the projected increase in uptake of this fuel source.

“The new policy initiative is expected to increase the momentum of biomass with Scotland aiming for 11% of the country’s heat to be produced from renewable sources by 2020. Biomass is widely expected to be one of the principal means of achieving this.”

The Government officially launched the RHI scheme in November, 2011 therefore applications can now be made. Grampian Biomass Working Group welcomed the move by urgingAberdeenCityand Shire to take full advantage of the scheme.

The Group, which is co-ordinated by the Forestry Commission and supported by AREG, is committed to encouraging the uptake of biomass projects in the North-east – not least because of its significant benefits to both the suppliers and users of wood fuel. It is sustainable, affordable and practical, creates employment opportunities and utilises existing local skills.

Ian Cowe, biomass development officer for the Forestry Commission Scotland, said: “For more than five years, Forestry Commission Scotland has been working in conjunction with AREG through the Grampian Biomass Working Group to help develop the woodfuel industry in the North-east ofScotland. We have already seen strong growth in its use for commercial and industrial heating purposes, reducing business energy costs and creating employment in the rural environment. Therefore, it is I am delighted to see this new funding launched.

The new 20-year incentive should help increase woodfuel usage, which is most economic when managed on the local scale. This should be of particular significance in the North-east, particularly Aberdeenshire and the Cairngorms National Park, because we are surrounded by an abundant timber resource. By reducing the distance between production and usage, we can minimise cost.

“Modern automated wood-fuel heating systems are as clean and efficient as the oil alternatives and are a reliable solution to our growing energy demands.”

Mr Todd held a briefing meeting on 12th January at the James Hutton Institute, Aberdeen on the UK Government scheme. Guest speaker at the event was Ollie More from Ofgem who explained the workings of the scheme.

The RHI had been delayed following DECC’s resolution of the scheme’s large-scale biomass compatibility with EU state aid rules.

Mr Todd added: “Uptake on this new scheme will greatly increase the demand for woodfuel, which will enhance security of supply and reduce carbon dioxide emissions. With a particular focus on heat-generating renewable technologies; the RHI allows biomass to secure its position as the UK’s fourth energy source.”

Now in its sixth year, Grampian Biomass Working Group brings together clients, supply chain organisations and supporters wanting to harness the region’s wood fuel resources.

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