Concerns raised over RHI proposals

The consultation period on the domestic sector Renewable Heat Incentive, and expanding the number of eligible technologies for non-domestic customers, is set to come to an end on 7 December.

Head of renewables at Saffery Champness, Shirley Mathieson, has raised concerns over the level of uptake when the scheme is likely to be launched in Summer 2013. She cited a lack of information about the financial incentives as a key reason for potentially low numbers, and suggested that rural areas with a higher cost of living should be targeted to take advantage of the RHI.

Shirley Mathieson told Land Gazette: “While undoubtedly the incentive to invest in renewable heating will be sound, whether air source heat pumps, biomass boilers, ground source heat pumps, or solar thermal technology – and particularly given the rising cost of fossil fuel alternatives of oil and gas – there is still a lot of uncertainty about funding options to install these renewable technologies.

The Government’s Energy Bill was launched today, and the Green Deal should have an impact on the initial uptake of domestic RHI, and homeowners commissioning Green Deal work after 20 January 2013 will be eligible for ‘cash back’ capped at 50 per cent of their costs subject to qualification.

But while this Green Deal finance will be available for measures such as cavity wall and loft insulation, the RHI consultation says that renewable heat technologies themselves are unlikely to be fully fundable through the Green Deal.

The aspiration is that specific ‘funding packages’ will be created to allow domestic users to finance installation of renewable heating, but until these packages are made public there is very little to work with.

The consultation document says that those who are ahead of the curve and who have since 2009 installed technologies assisted by other grant support should still qualify for domestic RHI, but under State Aid rules, grant funding already received would be subtracted from the amount of RHI payable.”