Increasing demand for the RHI

Robert Burke, HETAS, analyses the latest release of RHI statistics

Every month I sit down to write this column and find myself drawn back to the same subject – the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI). But it’s an unavoidable fact that the RHI is dominating and driving the renewables industry forwards. By the end of September the government was able to announce that 10,000 RHI applications had been accredited, with a commitment to pay £120m to those first 10,000 accreditations over the next seven years.

Oil remains the most common fuel which is being replaced by renewable technologies, which points to the fact that customers in rural off-grid areas are benefitting from the scheme the most. Geographically the South West of England and Scotland are the two regions with the highest number of accreditations compared to the number of households. Biomass is the most popular type of renewable technology being installed under new applications, making up 44 percent of accreditations. It also accounts for 17 percent of legacy applications which include almost five years of historic installations.

With the increasing amount of new applications, more companies are taking advantage of the opportunities to increase installation work by becoming registered with the MCS. Greenables, based in Halstead in Essex, is one company who recently became a HETAS registered MCS installer. Feedback from Greenables and other MCS installers indicates that consumer awareness of RHI is still relatively low, and customers are looking for reassurance that both the technologies and RHI payments will remain in place for the long term. Although installation costs for renewable heat systems can be a barrier, this can be overcome once RHI is explained to customers.

Becoming an MCS approved installer isn’t just for larger installation companies. Many smaller firms and sole traders are finding the payback and investment in training worthwhile in terms of increased business. Oliver Carter Plumbing & Heating, a sole trader based in North Yorkshire, recently decided to apply for MCS accreditation with HETAS following several customer enquiries regarding biomass boiler installations. HETAS was able to advise on the relevant qualifications and put Oliver in touch with a local HETAS approved training centre. Following the training course there were a number of assignments to complete prior to assessment by a HETAS auditor. The process was relatively straightforward with guidance provided along the way, culminating in MCS accreditation for Oliver.

Greenables and Oliver Carter are just two of the many installers and companies who are investing in MCS to gain the benefits of RHI not just for themselves, but also for their customers. If the RHI continues grow then there will be continuing demand for MCS accredited installers, with existing biomass, gas and oil installers well placed to take advantage of the additional business opportunities.