It has been argued that a well-balanced set of focused, transparent and stable policies may be preferable for the successful deployment of renewable electricity, transport and heat technologies. The success of an individual policy depends on its design and the supporting levels of enforcement. In order to promote strong, substantial growth in each renewable sector, policies must be reliable and long-term (often quoted as “loud, long and legal”). Targets for definitive quantities or percentages of renewable energy should be clearly outlined and verifiable. This analysis did not assess the impact of policies over time and further work is recommended.
Policies to support REHC need to address the specific challenge of the distributed nature of local heat demand and variability of use, especially for hot water. In contrast to large scale renewable electricity projects, policies in support of renewable heating should address to a greater extent the availability of local information, the success (or otherwise) of local projects, and local circumstances. In addition bureaucratic and administrative barriers, such as needing planning permission even for simple solar collector roof installations, or mining rights for geothermal heat extraction, may inhibit deployment and should be minimised.
Each country and state has a unique set of circumstances, needs, and resources that play an important role in the design and success of policies for renewable heating and may influence the appropriateness of a policy for a given area. For example, Sweden has had much success with the implementation of a tax exemption for biomass, increasing the levels of biomass-based heat (see Good Policy Practices section below) because the country has a strong forestry industry and well-developed infrastructure for biomass upon which the tax incentives could stand. Similarly the Barcelona Solar Thermal Ordinance has received much international attention for its innovation and success in promoting solar thermal panels. The ordinance, requiring new buildings or buildings undergoing heavy renovation to fulfil 60% of their hot water demand with solar heat, has been successful in part due to the expanding building and construction industry. In countries where the forestry and building industry sectors are less dominant, similar policies may have substantially different results. Therefore, each nation must design its own system and combination of policies based on its individual situation, resources and set of goals.
Increasing supply-side confidence may have a positive impact on deployment. Private investment in facilities, marketing and distribution structures and the training of installers tends to accompany stable, predictable and long term policies. In the medium term this leads to a higher market presence, economies of scale, lower costs and improved product quality (Figure 29). Poor quality systems and inferior installations compromise the reputation of the technology and can produce a lack of consumer confidence. Generally a mix of instruments is essential for success. For example, carrot-based instruments in combination with information campaigns and training programmes can be structured to build professional support for the growing REHC technological demands.