Analysis reveals Scotland leads drive for renewable heat

Scottish businesses and community energy projects have adopted biomass and other forms of renewable heat at a faster rate than anywhere else in the UK, according to new analysis of Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) adoption statistics by Raggnar, the renewable energy provider.

Raggnar’s review of data published by the Department of Energy and Climate Change reveals that eight in every 1,000 Scottish businesses now produce their own heat and hot water with clean energy. Almost one in five of the 14,592 non-domestic RHI applications made to Ofgem since the scheme was launched in 2011 was from organisations based north of the border.

Adoption of renewable heating systems by non-domestic users has increased by 29 per cent in Scotland since the start of 2015 and contributed almost a fifth of the 521 MW of new renewable heating capacity added by non-domestic producers to the UK’s energy assets so far this year.

Scottish adoption of clean energy systems is happening four times faster than in England, where just two in every 1,000 commercial entities generate their own clean heat and hot water. In Wales, seven in every 1,000 businesses use renewable heating systems.

With 28 RHI applicants for every 1,000 businesses, Dumfries and Galloway has the highest levels of non-domestic renewable heat users in Scotland. There have been 1,137 new RHI installations in the area this year, adding 175 MW of new capacity. East Ayrshire, Scottish Borders and the Highlands also have relatively large populations of clean energy producers; businesses and community energy schemes in these areas have adopted renewable heating five times faster than the rest of the UK.

Nigel Perkins, CEO of Raggnar, commented: “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.

“The Chancellor’s decision to boost RHI funding to £1.15 billion and double support for energy research, low-carbon electricity and renewables is good news for energy consumers and will accelerate the expansion of Scotland’s clean energy community. 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.”

Amongst this year’s renewable energy adopters this year is Willie Mackie, who commissioned Raggnar to design and install a 700 kW biomass energy scheme at his farm in Aberdeenshire. The new district heating system serves the main farm house, seven estate houses, workshop and grain drying facility, and has reduced Whiteside Farm’s fuel costs by almost £30,000 a year.

Willie Mackie comments: “Renewable energy has revolutionised Whiteside Farm. We have slashed our energy bills and all of the farm’s facilities will benefit from a reliable, low cost energy source for several decades to come. Government incentives have turbocharged the return on our renewable energy investment, but the fuel savings alone would have justified the spend in good time. We will recoup the total spend within seven years.”