24th January | Helen Lindley back

Renewables subsidies: friend or foe?

The government’s Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) is filling many a column inch at the moment – although arguably for all the wrong reasons. In case you haven’t heard, I’m talking about Northern Ireland’s bungling of the scheme, which the media have dubbed the ‘cash for ash scandal‘.

Botched

In summary, independent auditors have uncovered some serious flaws in the implementation of the Northern Irish RHI. These have enabled some to exploit loopholes to their financial advantage.

In one notable case, a farmer was reported to be earning £1 million of public money to heat an empty shed. When other such examples are taken into account, it’s been predicted that the debacle will cost the taxpayer £490 million.

Do subsidies work?

As a PR professional who specialises in sustainability and the built environment, I’ve been watching events unfold with both interest and trepidation. During my career, I’ve spent a lot of time talking and writing about the RHI and its importance in driving the UK renewables market forward. But this episode begs the question: do subsidies really work?

Personally, I think the scheme’s heart is in the right place. What’s happened in Northern Ireland is unfortunate, but the English, Scottish and Welsh governments must learn from it. If deployed and marketed in the right way, I believe the RHI can and will increase uptake of renewable heat, which is ultimately the goal.

After all, we’re a nation lagging seriously behind some of our more forward-thinking European neighbours when it comes to using cleaner, greener energy sources. Something’s got to change, and schemes like the RHI are a crucial catalyst to the transition.

The comms challenge

The challenge that communications specialists in this area face is spreading the word about subsidies, while simultaneously not letting them overshadow the wider, non-monetary benefits of taking a more sustainable approach to energy.

In other words, the success of subsidies depends on them being taken for what they are: one element of a wider strategy. And as with any strategy – not least an effective comms campaign – the key to success is context, messaging, and a carefully considered approach.

To discuss your business objectives with Richmond & Towers, and find out how we might be able to help, contact us at anouska@rtc.london. 

18th November | Trends and Insights Team
R&T Trends & Insights: What’s new with consumers?

Are you ready to dive into the latest consumer behaviour trends? With the world around us continuing to evolve at pace, it’s more important than ever to keep up with what consumers are thinking, feeling and doing right now – and take a step back to consider the effect this… Read more

18th November | Trends and Insights Team
R&T Trends & Insights: What’s new in PR…

Get set to read up on the latest (and tastiest) goings on in the fast-evolving world of PR and social media. November has been a juicy month, so we recommend you grab yourself a snack and a cuppa (or suitable drink of choice depending on the time you’re reading this,… Read more

5th October | Scarlette Matthews
What’s in a friend?

  How many hours does it really take to make a friend?   Read more

Load more
See our latest work
Visit our portfolio
Read our latest news
Visit all latest news