RHI consultations win friends - for the moment
DECC's launching of three consultations on the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) has drawn widespread welcome from the industry, plus a few words of early criticism.
While the general feeling is that DECC are to be congratulated for getting their proposals out there, a price warning from the Solar Trade Association (STA) is a sharp reminder that responses will get tougher, once the applause dies down.
For the moment, industry is appreciative of being invited to consult on DECC's 'indicative tariff ranges' for air source heat pumps (6.9-11.5p/kWh), biomass boilers (5.2-8.7p/kWh), ground source heat pumps (12.5-17.3p/kWh) and solar thermal technologies (17.3p/kWh).
Other key points include the payment to householders over seven years for each kWh of heat produced, for the expected lifetime of the renewable technology, based on 'deemed heat usage', rather than a metered process.
Consultation is also invited on the expanding of RHI for commercial, industrial and community customers to increase uptake in this sector, followed by a second consultation focusing on air to water heat pumps and energy from waste.
Energy Minister Greg Barker said there was a need to 'revolutionise' the way homes and businesses are heated and that the proposals were designed to encourage 'even more uptake of clean green heating'.
The Renewable Energy Association's (REA) head of policy Paul Thompson, responded that renewable heat had been the 'sleeping giant of UK renewable energy policy' and that REA looked forward to engaging with DECC to 'make the RHI work'.
The STA, meanwhile, took comfort in the declared flexibility of the consultation process. While encouraged that DECC had 'listened to what we have to say', STA ceo Paul Barwell warned that the tariff proposed for solar thermal will concern many of his members, adding that, at least, the door had been left open for flexibility on support levels.
Positive comments also came from those at the 'working end' of the RHI system.
"It's fantastic to now have some direction and assurance about the future shape of the RHI," said Aberdeenshire-based biomass and solar heating provider, Athol Duckett of AD Heating. "Many householders are keen to install renewable technologies, but want to be sure of their return on investment before committing to an often substantial capital outlay."
Fort William biomass specialist, Bruno Berardelli of H W Energy, added: "This is set to be a major step forward in the UK's bid to catch up with the rest of Europe on renewable heat. In particular, the plan to 'deem' rather than meter household heat usage seems very sensible, avoiding a significant admin burden."