Renewable Thermal Policy Principles

The Renewable Thermal Collaborative supports policies to accelerate deployment of affordable and sustainable renewable thermal technologies. As renewable thermal buyers aiming to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions, we need access to cost-effective, responsibly sourced, renewable and lower-carbon thermal energy solutions, including biomass, biogas, geothermal, landfill gas, renewable natural gas or biomethane, beneficial electrification, green hydrogen, solar thermal, and more. 

 

Our approach is modeled on the success of renewable electricity policies, which helped lower the costs of these technologies and dramatically scale up their deployment. We urge policy makers to use the same policy tools for renewable thermal, including research, development, demonstration, and deployment (RDD&D), financial incentives, technical assistance, accounting for environmental benefits, and renewable standards. We also encourage policies that will increase efficiency of thermal energy systems to further reduce emissions.

 

Policy can help to level the playing field for renewable thermal technologies and accelerate the ability of companies and organizations such as ours to scale up their use, cut carbon emissions, and make us more competitive.

1. Renewable Thermal Programs and Policies for Utilities

Governments should adopt standards to increase use of renewable thermal energy (e.g. through Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS) or targets), and such standards should allow for the use of a robust array of renewable thermal technologies.

  • These technologies should include those that produce different temperatures of thermal energy, including high temperatures that can serve industrial needs.
  • These standards should be designed to be achievable and to include a wide range of renewable thermal technologies.
  • In order to implement these standards, governments should require the use of a registry tracking system to facilitate a transparent and efficient market.

Governments and utilities should work together to develop and implement programs that offer customers renewable thermal solutions.

  • Such programs should aim to provide customers with affordable and sustainable solutions that meet their renewable thermal energy needs.

2. Financial Incentives

Governments should create technology neutral financial incentives that encourage development of, investment in, and installation of renewable thermal technologies.

  • Financial incentives should aim to defray costs and encourage private investment.
  • Financial incentives may include low-cost loans, grant programs, and favorable tax treatment. The structure of any such programs should provide predictability to researchers, developers, investors, and end users and take into consideration the extended timeline of new technology development.
  • Financial incentives may be adjusted over time as costs for renewable thermal technologies decrease or if policies are implemented to account for the total costs and benefits of all types of fuels.

3. Environmental Benefits

Government policies should recognize and reflect all the environmental benefits of renewable thermal energy, including reducing greenhouse gas emissions and other air, water, and waste pollutants. Any such policies should seek to create broad access to renewable thermal technologies.

4. Research, Development, Demonstration, and Deployment (RDD&D)

Governments should increase public investment in research and development of a robust array of renewable thermal technologies.

  • These technologies should include those that produce different temperatures of thermal energy, including high temperatures that can serve industrial needs.

5. Technical Assistance

Governments should provide technical assistance for renewable thermal system developers and thermal energy users to bridge knowledge gaps and lead to a better understanding of renewable thermal applications.

  • Technical assistance should be available to industrial high-temperature thermal end users.