Domestic RHI delayed until Spring 2014

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By Solar Heat Tech | Tuesday, May 14, 2013, 12:35

A programme offering payments to householders who install renewable heat technologies will be pushed back until spring 2014, the government confirmed today, while also unveiling a new national heat strategy.

Details of how the domestic renewable heat incentive (RHI) scheme will work and tariff levels will now be published in the summer, the date the government said last year the programme would start.

Energy and Climate Change Minister Greg Barker said the government remains "committed to introducing an incentive scheme for householders" to run alongside the non-domestic RHI, which started in earnest a year ago.

However, this marks a further delay to the domestic RHI, which was initially intended to begin in autumn last year before being pushed back in September's consultation.

To cover the gap, the government will extend the Renewable Heat Premium Payment (RHPP) scheme, which offers money off the cost of renewable heating kit such as biomass boilers, solar thermal panels and heat pumps, until March 2014. The RHPP was earmarked to finish this month.

The Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) also intends to consult on increasing tariffs for biomass above more 1MW capacity and ground source heat pumps under the non-domestic scheme. Levels for air source heat pumps, biogas, combined heat and power, and geothermal will be confirmed in its response to the September consultation, which is due this summer.

Paul Thompson, head of policy at the Renewable Energy Association (REA), told BusinessGreen some form of delay to the RHI was expected, but not for this length of time.

He also noted DECC officials have a "heavy workload" ahead if they are to complete the tariff reviews announced earlier this year, get to grips with the degression mechanism that automatically adjusts payment levels, and work though the new reviews.

"If you are not currently able to benefit from the RHI and were waiting on new tariffs then what are you meant to do - keep twiddling your thumbs?" he said. "People can cope with a delay in implementation if they know what the policy is going to be. The problem is people will now have to draw their own conclusions on how confident they are on a decision being made [in the summer]."

Dave Sowden, chief executive of the Micropower Council, said the market was "bitterly disappointed" with the delay, coming after the government scrapped plans to ensure property owners fit energy efficiency improvements as part of other renovations - a decision subject to a judicial review.

The RHI update was announced as the government published its new heat plan, which closely follows last year's strategic framework document designed to expand the use of low carbon heating in UK homes and businesses.

Currently, over 80 per cent of heat used in UK homes, businesses and industry is produced by burning fossil fuels, while over a third of the UK's carbon emissions come from the energy used to produce heat.



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