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[ Spotlight: Renewable Heat Incentive ] Heat feat

By 2020 the government estimates that the renewable heat sector will have grown to include around:

■ 13,000 installations in industry. ■ 110,000 installations in the commercial and public sector, supplying 25 per cent of the heat demand in these sectors.

Key factors of the operation of the RHI are: ■ Payments will be made quarterly over a 20-year period.

■ For installations up to and including 45kWh, installers and equipment must be certifi ed under the Microgeneration Certifi cation Scheme (MCS) or equivalent standard.

■ Biomass installations of 1MWh capacity and above will be required to report quarterly on the sustainability of their biomass feedstock.

■ Eligible installations completed after 15 July 2009, but before the start of the RHI, will be eligible for support.

■ The RHI will be administered by Ofgem.

way short of the industry’s expectations. ‘In its current form, the scheme is unlikely to provide

Mixed source renewable heating solutions

disappointed. The government has decided this particular type of heat pump needs more work to better understand the costs associated with it before it can be included in the RHI. DECC said: ‘For air source heat pumps, work is ongoing to


develop a robust methodology for measuring heat delivered in the form of hot air. Subject to successful conclusion of this work and other factors (such as the role of cooling as opposed to heating in such systems) we intend to extend eligibility to this technology from 2012.’ ‘Effectively, an air source heat pump is simply an air

conditioning unit working in reverse mode,’ says Bill Wright, head of energy solutions at the ECA. ‘Apart from the problem of measuring output, the other problem the government has with air source heat pumps is that it doesn’t want to subsidise the installation of air conditioning equipment.’ Chris Davis, business development director at Dimplex

Renewables, was dismayed at the omission from the scheme: ‘While any support for the UK renewables market is good news, this announcement falls some

the growth stimulus the industry needs if we are to work together to achieve the government’s target of 12 per cent of heat from renewable sources by 2020. We’d like to see some of the scheme’s gaps fi lled in, in particular with regard to domestic tariff payments, and also we see a clear need to work with government on getting non-domestic and communal residential air source systems included under the scheme. It’s crucial to maintain the momentum from this announcement and not lose sight of the need to continue moving ahead.’ Thomas Mortimer, renewable energy manager at ECA

member Wessex Group, was also disappointed with the announcement. ‘A lot of our domestic customers will not be able to make an investment decision without knowing the tariffs available, even with the one-off premium payment. And there will only be 25,000 premium payments available: not very many when you think of the potential number of systems going in.’ Given the lack of clarity, it is no wonder that many

contractors will be uncertain as whether or not to expand their core business into renewable heat. ‘ELECSA has spent the last year touring the UK on its renewable energy road show alongside the ECA,’ says Chris Beedel, certifi cation director at ECA Certifi cation. ‘We have spoken to thousands of contractors at trade shows, many of who have had the “light bulb moment” of expanding their business to encompass renewables, but have been bombarded with both confusing and, in some cases, incorrect information on the strategic investments they need to be making. ‘Contractors need to harness the new technology but

they need to get the right advice and talk to independent certifi cation bodies, such as ELECSA, to ensure they are making all the right decisions for their business.’

The renewable heat industry needed a good news story, and a new incentive is just what is required – but the devil is in the detail, and long- term confi dence is needed

About the author

Andrew Brister Andrew Brister is a freelance journalist and editor. He has been involved in the building services sector for more than 20 years.

May 2011 ECA Today 25

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