RHI – Are we ready?

As we gear up for the launch of the Domestic Renewable Heat Incentive (DRHI), Robert Burke, HETAS, asks: Is the industry is ready for it?

Given that there have been considerable delays in launching the scheme, it’s understandable that people may have been hesitant about preparing for the DRHI. But now that the initiative will be implemented this spring, HETAS is now seeing a marked increase in the number of gas and oil engineers who are getting ready for the scheme by registering as Microgeneration Scheme (MCS) approved installers.

Although the government’s training voucher scheme has provided some welcome incentive, installers need to be prepared for the DRHI now. For a long time we’ve all been told that the scheme is coming, and because of the delays there now has to be a real trust that it’s going to happen. HETAS is just one of the organisations that has been working behind the scenes to get ready for it.

At the moment HETAS is the only organisation with a biomass training and assessment programme that meets the needs of DRHI and MCS, and in order to welcome the DRHI we’ve simplified our MCS application process for installers. The network of HETAS approved training centres has also expanded, and there are savings to be made from becoming registered with the HETAS competent person scheme at the same time as MCS.

With DECC’s commitment and OFGEM’s professional approach, our initial feelings are that the DRHI scheme will be a success. The application process for the householder seems to be very straightforward and user friendly, which bodes well for a good level of take up. To qualify for DRHI funding householders will firstly need to have a Green Deal assessment – and 100,000 of those have already been done. Qualifying installations by an MCS approved installer with a DRHI approved product will then be eligible for 20 years of funding paid over a seven year period. So the scheme is very accessible for homeowners and it’s likely there will be a good take up rate.

Crucially, installers (and householders) should be aware that only MCS products that are on OFGEM’s DRHI approved products list will be eligible for the scheme. DRHI approved products only include:

  • Air to water heat pumps
  • Biomass-only boilers and biomass pellet stoves with back boilers
  • Ground (and water) source heat pumps
  • Flat plate and evacuated tube solar thermal panels

Whilst other technologies are included in MCS they are not included in DHRI.  HETAS has been asked by the government to hold the list of biomass boilers which meet the emissions requirements for DRHI and this will shortly be available online.

So behind the scenes there is a lot happening to make sure the correct infrastructure is in place for a successful scheme. But, it will only succeed if we have enough trained and registered installers. For companies already working in the gas and oil sectors, adding biomass to their existing skills should be relatively straightforward. Becoming registered with HETAS for biomass would also enable installers to self-certify stove installations which is a fast growing area of the heating market.