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[ Spotlight: Renewable Heat Incentive ]


A cross-section of Hoval’s BioLyt bio-


mass boiler system, fuelled by wood pellets


The installation of biomass and combined renewable heating solutions are set to grow


Huhne. ‘This incentive is the first of its kind in the world. It’ll help the UK shift away from fossil fuel, reducing carbon emissions and encouraging innovation, jobs and growth in new advanced technologies.’ The UK target is to source 15 per cent of its energy from


renewable sources by 2020. The figure currently stands at around 7 per cent. Heat generated from renewables currently only meets one per cent of the UK’s total heat demand. To reach the 2020 renewable energy target, around 12 per cent of the UK’s heat needs to be generated from renewable sources.


Hotting up The RHI will encourage installation of equipment such as solar thermal panels, biomass boilers and ground- and water-source heat pumps to reduce the UK’s carbon emissions (see box). This will be done by giving out a tariff for generation of heat (in terms of pence/kWh) by renewable fuels, as it already does for green electricity with the FITs scheme. So far, RHI tariff levels have only been announced for the commercial sector, industry, business and large organisations. RHI tariff payments for the domestic sector will start


alongside the Green Deal financial incentive in 2012. However, in the meantime, the government will provide a RHI premium payment to homeowners for up to 25,000 installations from July this year. The Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC)


is to publish further details on the RHI premium payment in May. Those taking up the premium will be eligible for an RHI tariff from October next year when the Green Deal begins, as will anyone else who has had eligible equipment installed from July 2009. For new build homes, the government says an RHI tariff will be considered from 2012. ‘We are surprised that the RHI announcement didn’t


A chip off the old block


A biomass boiler, using woodchips or pellets, is a technology more suited to the mechanical fraternity rather than their electrical cousins, but it boasts impressive carbon credentials. Carbon Trust case studies shows paybacks ranging from just 2.9 years through to 4.7 years, due to the lower costs for wood over other fuels. Using solid biomass for heating typically gives


reductions in carbon emissions of around 90 per cent relative to using fossil fuel heating systems. The Carbon Trust suggests that lifetime CO2 emissions for woodchip biomass are in the range of 10-23 kg CO2/ MWh. This compares with 263-302 kgCO2/MWh for natural gas. Availability of fuel should not be an issue for most


applications. The Carbon Trust suggests that, for the foreseeable future, sufficient UK biomass fuel resources exist to supply a large number of new biomass heating systems. One of the main differences between a biomass


heating system and a conventional fossil fuel heating system is that the biomass boiler is best suited to being operated relatively continuously (between around 30 per cent and 100 per cent of its rated output). This means that a heat store, and/ or a fossil fuel system to manage peak demands, is often specified in addition to the biomass boiler. Also, a biomass heating plant will be considerably larger in volume than an equivalently-rated fossil- fuel plant due, in part, to the inherent combustion characteristics of solid, organic materials.


The £860 million Renewable Heat Incentive scheme is expected to increase green capital investment by £4.5 billion


May 2011 ECA Today 23


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