Switching from oil and gas to renewables

Since the launch of the domestic RHI, HETAS has seen a noticeable increase in demand for biomass training and MCS registration, reports Robert Burke

25 percent of accreditations for the RHI so far have been biomass, with solar and heat pumps also popular. There is no doubt that the RHI scheme is particularly beneficial for households off the gas grid and in rural areas, which have the space for biomass, solar panels or heat pumps.

Rural off grid properties tend to be older, larger properties which are perhaps not so energy efficient and are generally heated by oil, LPG or electricity. Because fossil fuels like heating oil are more expensive and have a higher carbon content, the domestic RHI enables householders to reduce their heating bills by installing a renewable technology.

There are around four million off-gas homes in the UK, which are evenly split between rural and urban areas. The vast majority of these will be eligible for RHI payments. Biomass is one of the major growth areas for heating systems, and many major oil and gas boiler manufacturers have already diversified into biomass systems. For existing oil and gas installers biomass represents an ideal growth opportunity, as many of them will already have the pre-requisites to add biomass installations to the services they can offer customers.

Courses like the HETAS Direct Entry biomass training course are ideal for existing gas and oil installers and others who wish to attain the skills necessary to install biomass boiler appliances. Candidates who successfully complete this course can register with HETAS for a limited scope registration for the installation of log, chip and pellet biomass boilers, pellet stoves and associated equipment. The course can also be used as part of the criteria for approval with HETAS as a Microgeneration Certification Installer for biomass.

The domestic RHI has been designed to be easily accessible for consumers, with a Green Deal assessment a pre-requisite. Over 100,000 households have already had Green Deal assessments, with the potential to apply for RHI payments. Qualifying installations by an MCS approved installer with an RHI approved product are eligible for 20 years of funding paid over a seven year period.

With oil no longer an easy choice especially for new build in rural areas, renewables are increasingly appealing for specifiers, developers and installers alike. The boost in demand for biomass training is reflected in a 34% increase in the number of candidates attending HETAS training courses in the last 12 months compared to the previous year. HETAS is the only competent person scheme specialising in solid fuel and biomass, offering a wide range of courses from an introduction to solid fuel through to the more advanced stove and biomass installer training and chimney system training.

To find out more about the RHI, biomass training and MCS registration visit the HETAS website which is packed with information for householders, specifiers, installers and service engineers at www.hetas.co.uk.