Businesses warm to wood heat as installed capacity passes 1GW milestone
Almost 5,000 wood heating installations have been accredited under the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) as total installed capacity passed the 1GW capacity milestone last week.
Figures from the Wood Heat Association (WHA), an affiliated body of the Renewable Energy Association (REA), showed a rapid increase in wood heating system installations under RHI, which was launched in 2011, with many businesses in the commercial, industrial and public sectors moving to take advantage of renewable heat generation.
Research published by the REA in April showed that the UK wood heating industry sustains more than 13,000 jobs and accounted for more than 56% of investment in renewable heat generation between 2010 and 2012.
WHA interim chairman Julian Morgan-Jones called the capacity milestone "a major breakthrough".
"Our industry is growing fast, from boiler manufacturers and installers to fuel producers and distributors. We want that growth to be both successful and sustainable," said Morgan-Jones.
"As well as stability in the RHI, we also need to do more work on upskilling system installers and developing widely accepted installation standards for all boiler sizes. This is crucial for ensuring that as the industry grows, it maintains a solid reputation for excellent customer satisfaction."
Launched in May, the WHA represents more than 700 companies in the wood heating industry, including fuel producers and equipment manufacturers, and has been working closely with the REA to ensure sustainable growth for the industry.
Earlier this year, the Government offered a package of improvements to the RHI to support businesses switching to renewable heat technologies.
REA chief executive Dr Nina Skorupska claimed that the future was looking brighter for renewable heat: "Thousands of UK businesses have realised the benefits of biomass for delivering reliable, low cost, low-carbon heating, and yet we've only just scratched the surface."
Backing calls for additional funding for RHI, Dr Skorupska said: "We want renewable technologies to be the go-to option for all buildings and industrial processes, which will make a huge dent in our greenhouse gas emissions and greatly reduce our dependence on imported gas. To secure this, the Government must take the advice of the Committee on Climate Change and commit to sufficient funding for the RHI in the next spending round."
Between 2010 and 2012, more than £760m was invested in heat from bioenergy in the UK and renewable heat generation increased by 19% between 2012 and 2013. However, last year the UK produced just 2.8% of its energy for heating from renewables.