Scotland is adopting biomass and other forms of renewable heat more quickly than the rest of the UK, according to new analysis of renewable heat incentive (RHI) adoption statistics.
The study by renewable energy provider Raggnar, reviewing data published by the Department of Energy and Climate Change, found that eight in every 1,000 Scottish businesses now produce their own heat and hot water with clean energy, four times the rate in England.
Nigel Perkins, chief executive of Aberdeenshire-based Raggnar, said: “Scotland leads the race to renewables because its businesses have woken up to the fact they can run leaner and greener on renewable energy faster than elsewhere in the UK.
“Improvements in technology mean that biomass can provide heat, hot water, electricity, steam and cooling, satisfying a far wider variety of industrial needs and providing a clean, mainstream alternative to gas, coal and oil.”
Adoption of renewable heating systems by non-domestic users grew by 29 per cent in Scotland since the start of this year, and almost a fifth of the 14,592 non-domestic RHI applications made to power regulator Ofgem since the scheme’s launch in 2011 came from Scottish organisations, Raggnar said.
The UK government said last month that it is to increase funding for the RHI to £1.15 billion in 2021 “to ensure that the UK continues to make progress towards its climate goals” and delivering expected savings of almost £700 million by 2020-21.
Perkins said the funding boost “will accelerate the expansion of Scotland’s clean energy community,” adding: “With the raw ingredients of sun, sea and wind available for free, or at far lower cost than traditional alternatives in the case of biofuels, there are clear financial and environmental incentives for many more commercial energy users to become their own micro-utility.”
The highest level in Scotland of non-domestic renewable heat users was Dumfries and Galloway, with 28 RHI applicants for every 1,000 businesses. East Ayrshire, the Borders and the Highlands also have a relatively large level of clean energy producers, with businesses and community energy schemes in these areas adopting renewable heating five times faster than the rest of the UK.
Among this year’s renewable energy adopters is Willie Mackie, who had a 700-kilowatt biomass energy scheme at Whiteside Farm in Aberdeenshire. It has reduced costs by almost £30,000 a year and he said it has “revolutionised” his farm. “We have slashed our energy bills and all the farm’s facilities will benefit from a reliable, low-cost energy source for several decades to come,” he said.