Carbon taxes urged to boost renewable heating

EU-funded stakeholder report calls for ‘stable legislative framework’ and renewable district heating targets.

EU member states should introduce carbon taxes or levies to encourage renewable heating and cooling, an EU-funded project has recommended.

The paper has been published as part of the multi-stakeholder FROnT project developing strategies for deploying renewable heating and cooling in buildings and industry.

Ideally, such a tax would be set at EU level, the paper says. But acknowledging the difficulties of getting governments to agree tax legislation passed by unanimity it recommends national schemes instead.

Written by Nathalie Hemeleers of bioenergy association AEBIOM, the paper says that taxation, while necessary, is not sufficient.

It calls for a stable legislative framework based on long-term national plans to help renewable heating and cooling to become competitive.

The paper identifies key barriers to deployment as including a lack of strategic priorities, persistent market failures, poor awareness and a lack of finance.

To improve the balance in district heating, where 85% of systems currently run on fossil fuels, minimum shares of renewable energy should be set for both new and existing district heating, according to the recommendations.

One of the report’s loudest calls is for any support schemes to run for at least five years, providing stability for market development. “Stop and go policies” must absolutely be avoided, it says, because this can “irrevocably undermine investors’ confidence”.

Support schemes should be technology and market specific to take into account different maturity levels, the paper argues. It advocates group purchasing to help push down prices.

The introduction of clear and efficient energy labelling on heating systems would boost awareness and stimulate the purchase of renewable solutions over fossil fuel based ones, according to the author. And support should only be granted to the best performing heating systems.

Last February, the European Commission published an EU heating and cooling strategy. This emphasised the potential for increasing the share of renewable energy in the sector.

View the article from ENDS Waste & Bioenergy HERE.