Star Renewable Energy Wins Global Game Changer Award but Warns of Threat of Business Rates

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Harvesting heat from rivers across the world was judged a “Global Game Changer” at a prestigious awards ceremony last night in Glasgow’s Science Centre. The event recognised sustainability and innovation at international levels across all business sectors, and Star surpassed the competition to take the Corporates for Good award.

This project is entirely viable because of the continued commitment of Scottish and UK Governments to a lower carbon society

With growing concerns about climate change and air pollution, the judges voted for the Scottish company’s technique which harvests heat from rivers using heat pumps. A technique first proposed in 1852 by Lord Kelvin but rarely adopted uses the refrigeration cycle to cool down river water and in doing so extract heat, which is delivered at up to 90°C to replace heat achieved by burning gas. The Scottish Government’s Low Carbon Infrastructure Technology Programme is supporting a proposed development in the Gorbals in Glasgow, which will see a system deployed to provide heat at the same or lower price than gas to a sports centre, business centre and housing but with less than half the carbon dioxide emissions and zero local NOx emissions. NOx are usually associated with vehicle exhausts but a recent Greater London Authority report suggested that nearly 40% is actually from burning gas – confirming that gas boilers contribute to the reported 40,000 UK pollution-related premature deaths per year.

The Glasgow based project will be the largest such system in the UK, and the largest since Star Renewable Energy (SRE) completed their flagship project in Drammen, Norway in 2010. The company has a proven track record of delivering low carbon heating solutions, and now has the Global Game Changers accolade, yet Star Renewable Energy highlights the necessity of policy frameworks to support, rather than hinder investment in heat pump technology.

Director of SRE, David Pearson commented, “This is a welcome award ahead of a busy period in respect of the Gorbals project. This project is entirely viable because of the continued commitment of Scottish and UK Governments to a lower carbon society. There is a huge amount of support in programmes such as LCITP and the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) as we try to reduce our fossil fuel consumption by over 80% in the next 20 years. However, we must implement proposed changes in planning, taxation, pre-accreditation and tariff guarantee for large water source heat pumps and balance these support mechanisms with compelling drivers that see existing businesses driven to play their part in change.”

Speaking with regard to non-domestic rates reform being considered by Derek Mackay, Scottish Cabinet Secretary for Finance and the Constitution following the “Barclay Review”, Thomas McMillan, Director of Renewables for Savills said, “the solution to the rates conundrum for renewable heat projects is both simple and already defined. The Scottish and U.K. government must carry forward the principle of "productive investment", already utilised for high speed fibre amongst other investments, and apply this to the deployment of plant and machinery for low carbon heating and other integrated renewable energy technologies.”

“To offer short term or capped exemptions is merely a sticking plaster, that does not remove risk to investors in new projects and undermines wider government policy in these crucial areas. Current business rates policy is resulting in projected business rates on some projects exceeding the income/savings secured from investing in the technology. This will result in almost zero deployment of commercial heat pumps or rooftop solar in the coming years unless productive investment classifications are applied to these technologies. Under devolved powers the Scottish Government has the authority to makes changes to business rates that will boost deployment of low carbon technologies, increase jobs and boost revenues to the Scottish economy through productive investment.”

Star Renewable Energy believe they are on the cusp of proving the low carbon heating solutions they have deployed overseas could drastically reduce the nation’s fossil fuel consumption, but the current business rates policy is acting as a roadblock for commercial investors.

For more information about the Global Game Changers Awards visit: http://newsquestscotlandevents.com/events/globalgc/

To find out more about Star Renewable Energy and the company’s innovative heat pumps deployed worldwide, go to: http://www.neatpumps.com/

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Astrid Prado
@lowchargeNH3
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