UK government turns up the thermostat on renewable heating

Posted at September 22, 2012 » By : » Categories : News » Comments Off on UK government turns up the thermostat on renewable heating

The UK government yesterday unveiled its plans for the next stage of its Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) scheme aimed at boosting ‘green’ heating technologies.

The first stage of the scheme for the non-domestic sector was launched last November but the promised expansion of the initiative to the domestic sector has been delayed.

Now, however, the government has outlined its plans for the scheme, which will open for householders next summer.

“We need to revolutionise the way we heat our homes and businesses and move away from expensive fossil fuels, not only to cut carbon but to help meet our renewables targets and save money on bills,” said Energy Minister Greg Barker in his announcement.

Currently, space heating accounts for the largest proportion of energy use in the UK and is predominantly supplied by gas. Nearly half of the UK’s CO2 emissions come from heating and renewable technologies account for just 1% of the total – one of the lowest figures in Europe.

Under the plans, the RHI will offer householders a tariff for installing renewable heating systems like biomass boilers, heat pumps and solar thermal or who have installed such technologies since July 2009.

The government is now consulting on its proposals of offering tariffs for air source heat pumps in the range of 6.9-11.5p/kWh, 5.2-8.7p/kWh for biomass boilers, 12.5-17.3p/kWh for ground source heat pumps and 17.3p/kWh for solar thermal technologies.

Householders would receive the tariff over a seven-year period, the expected lifetime of the renewable technology, in a similar manner to the operation of the feed-in tariff for renewable microgeneration technologies.

To receive the payments, properties will have to meet the same minimum energy efficiency requirements that have been outlined for the government’s Green Deal scheme.

Two further consultations look at a possible expansion of the scheme for commercial, industrial and community organisation to include air to air heat pumps, air to water heat pumps and biomass direct air heaters.

The revised scheme would also be extended to include biogas combustion systems over 200 kW, increase the tariff for deep geothermal installations and introduce tariffs for biomass and bioliquid combined heat and power (CHP) systems.

However, reversible air to air heat pumps would continue to be excluded from the scheme.

The announcement has been welcomed by renewables and environmental groups, with Paul Thompson of the Renewable Energy Association commenting:
“Renewable heat has been the sleeping giant of UK renewable energy policy. Renewable heat technologies are often very cost-effective, and have a major role to play in reducing our carbon emissions, improving our energy security, and revitalising our economy.”

The three consultations on the proposals for domestic and non-domestic systems will be open for the next two months, except for the call for views on air to water heat pumps and energy from waste, which closes in mid-October.

The government statement emphasises that the consultations “are likely” to affect the tariffs in the final scheme.

For further information:

Related stories:
Micropower Council calls for end to “distorted” UK heating market (16-Aug)
Renewable Heat Incentive will halt if budget exceeded, says UK government (12-Jun)
UK government switches on low-carbon heating for social housing (29-May)
Industry warns UK government over delays to renewable heat incentive (21-May)

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