Renewable Heat in the UK
The benefits of matching energy quality to service should be obvious. Why use oil for heating when it has higher-value uses? And gas is, after all, not limitless. Renewable heat deserves a discussion of its own.
In the UK, the Renewable Heat Initiative (RHI) will offer incentives to property owners that generate heat via solar, biomass, biogas, or ground or air source technologies.
RHI is set to begin offering cash for renewable heat from April 2011. As currently designed, it will provide consumers, communities and organisations with only a modest incentive to find sources of heat other than gas (69 per cent of heat generation), electricity (14 per cent) and oil (11 per cent). But in beginning to give renewable heat the status it deserves, the RHI is a welcome gesture.
Heat will be more and more central to the UK view of energy. Homes don’t use much for cooking (three per cent), but need a lot for hot water (27 per cent), and even more for warm air (69 per cent). …
So it’s time Britain got serious about generating heat, period. In Sweden, Denmark and Finland, fully a third of heat comes from renewable sources, from combined heat and power (CHP), in which both electricity and heat are simultaneously derived from the same fuel, and from district heating, in which central boilers heat blocks of flats, or heat is piped from a central facility to local organisations and homes. …
Heat can be piped, but not large distances in the manner of gas, electricity or oil. However, renewable heat can be generated in many places. Not subject to losses in transmission, from which electricity suffers, renewable heat is something that, in its production and consumption, lends itself to local control and local pricing.
Leading renewable heat technologies are described on Wikipedia.