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Today Mike Weir, MP for Angus, introduced a Private Members Bill, backed by a coalition including Friends of the Earth, which would boost the use of renewable sources for generating heat. The second reading of the Bill will take place on 4 February 2005. The new law would increase the use of renewable fuel crops such as willow and straw and harness sources such as solar power and ground heat.
Around a third of the UK's demand for energy is for heat. The proposed new law would require a proportion of heating fuel sold in the UK to be sourced from renewable resources so less fossil fuels, such as coal, would be used for heat. It would play a significant role in helping the UK to combat climate change.
Mike Weir MP said:
`This Bill is a great opportunity to help farmers and other businesses and would reduce our reliance on fossil fuels. It would help in the fight against climate change and give a boost to this underexploited source of renewable energy.'
Friends of the Earth Climate Campaigner Katie Elliott, said:
`Tony Blair says he wants the UK to take a lead on tackling climate change. Despite a third of the UK's energy being used for heat, the Government's energy policy has overlooked the potential savings in carbon dioxide emissions from the heat sector. This Bill will help to boost the renewable heat market and so reduce our emissions of carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas.'
Despite some progress in the generation of renewable electricity, little renewable heat energy is currently generated in the UK. Farmers have been reluctant to grow crops for fuel, as markets have been so uncertain, and businesses have shown little interest in investing in technology which generates heat locally or which uses waste heat.
This proposed law would change this, by providing the same type of incentive for renewable heat generation as the Government has already provided for renewable electricity. This would ensure there was a better market for fuel crops such as straw and willow, and encourage investment - by providing an incentive for schools, hospitals, hotels, farmers or timber yards install their own small scale units such as wood burners, ground heat pumps or straw fired heating.
The Bill would allow energy suppliers to either invest in their own supplies of renewable heat energy or buy in `credits' from companies which specialise in the technology.
This Private Members Bill is supported by Friends of the Earth, the National Farmers Union and the Woodland Trust.
Friends of the Earth also endorses other environmentally friendly methods of dealing with waste wood and straw eg composting and recycling.