Opinion

Adding biomass to your installer skills

Wood Pellets

With domestic RHI tariffs confirmed, now is the time for installers to make sure they have the right skills and qualifications to take advantage of new business opportunities, says Robert Burke, HETAS

Now that the government has confirmed tariffs for the domestic Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI), the industry can start to move forward and make plans for when the RHI is introduced next year.

From spring 2014 householders could receive hundreds of pounds a year for using biomass boilers, solar thermal panels or heat pumps. The tariff levels for biomass boilers have been set at 12.2p/kWh, and households will be paid on a quarterly basis for seven years based on the estimated heat demand of the property. A Green Deal assessment is required, and installers must be MCS certified or equivalent.

Around 90 per cent of funding from the commercial version of the RHI has gone to biomass, so it’s likely that the domestic version could provide a very significant boost for the industry when it’s introduced.

For householders biomass offers an environmentally friendly option, and the RHI payments will make it an attractive choice for anyone who wants to install a new or replacement heating system. Because of the size of biomass installations it’s likely that most of these will be in rural areas, and for installers working in off-gas areas adding biomass to their heating skills is a natural progression. If you’re already working as a heating engineer, then you’ll already have many of the necessary skills.

Since HETAS introduced a biomass training course in 2009, demand has steadily increased in line with the demand for biomass installations. HETAS offers two straightforward routes to becoming a biomass installer, depending on your previous experience. The H005 course is aimed at heating engineers who already work dry and wet stoves and have existing HETAS qualifications. However, there is also a direct entry route aimed at gas and oil heating engineers who want to install biomass systems. The H005BR version of the biomass course is one day longer than the standard H005 four day course, and covers building regulations, legislation and standards in addition to the standard course content.

Both versions of the HETAS biomass training course cover appliances up to 45kW, but the same theory applies for installations up to 100kW including log, pellet and wood chip appliances. With a mix of theory and practical elements the course enables installers to carry out feasibility studies, and to professionally advise their customers on fuel type, storage options and system design. It also covers marketing and details how to access the various grants available for biomass systems under the RHI.

HETAS biomass assessments are the only ones mapped against National Occupational Standards, and courses are run through a nationwide network of HETAS approved training centres, some of which are approved with the NationalSkillsAcademy for Environmental Technologies. With a successful assessment, installers can register as an approved biomass installer on the HETAS competent persons scheme. The course can also be used as part of the criteria for approval with HETAS as an approved Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS) installer for biomass – which is important as installers need to be MCS approved to access RHI grants for their customers.

Becoming a biomass installer will mean you’ll be ideally placed to take advantage of a growing market which will have even more potential from next year. For more information on the training and registration schemes available with HETAS visit www.hetas.co.uk, contact info@hetas.co.uk or call 0845 634 5626.