RHI – getting the right product

Robert Burke, HETAS, discuss current progress made under the domestic RHI

OFGEM has published a brief review of the first participants who are set to receive payments under the new domestic RHI. After the scheme was launched in April there were 1,000 installations accredited in the first seven weeks. The choice of technology type was split fairly evenly between biomass, air source heat pumps and solar thermal with a smaller percentage of applicants installing ground source heat pumps. This is encouraging news for the industry with around 25 percent of applicants choosing biomass boilers or biomass stoves incorporating boilers.

The analysis of previous fuel types gives an interesting indicator of where most of the RHI applicants live. The overwhelming majority of the first thousand participants were using oil before switching to renewables, which confirms the government’s strategy to target off gas main homes, predominantly in rural areas. However, other participants have switched from gas and electricity as the domestic RHI is open to domestic consumers no matter what type of heating system they are switching from. The Department of Energy & Climate Change (DECC) has also launched a domestic RHI payment calculator to help installers and prospective customers work out how much they might receive under the scheme if they switch over to renewable technologies.

Fortunately manufacturers were well prepared for the long awaited domestic RHI, and there are many approved products already available on the market. To qualify for RHI payments the installation must use a product approved under the Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS) and HETAS is one of the official bodies authorised by UKAS to carry out MCS biomass product certification. Biomass boilers and stoves with boilers must also have an emissions certificate to qualify for RHI payments, and HETAS maintains the database of products with these certificates, of which there are now 700 listed online at www.rhieclist.org.uk.

Making sure the product complies with regulations isn’t just important for the RHI. Even if you’re not applying for RHI payments, it’s a legal requirement that any heating appliance meets the minimum safety and efficiency standards outlined in the building regulations. In practice this could be time consuming for installers to check with manufacturer’s whether their products meet the required efficiency levels amongst other things. However, HETAS also operates a product approval scheme which includes appliances which comply fully with current energy efficiency and safety requirements.

The HETAS approved product logo is a mark of confidence for the installer and end user. For the installer using a HETAS approved product can save a significant amount of time as they know the product complies with current legislation. Otherwise the installer would need to check product test reports and make sure that the user instructions give the correct advice. HETAS product approval is based a CE type test report, assessment of the installation and operating instructions, assembly drawings and details of the manufacturer’s quality management system.

Manufacturers of HETAS approved products can list them in the annual HETAS Guide of approved wood and solid fuel burning products, which is available online in addition to the 12,000 copies which are distributed every year. MCS approved products are also identified in the guide, and there are financial benefits for manufacturers in having their products HETAS and MCS approved at the same time. Further details of the HETAS Guide and MCS approved products can be found online at www.hetas.co.uk.