Application process unfamiliar
The RHI is still relatively new and the application process for achieving accreditation under the scheme is an unfamiliar one. To be fair, OFGEM recognises this issue and is taking steps to help the market understand what information is required to make a successful RHI application.
At the same time, as the first results of the scheme were revealed, OFGEM announced a series of free events around the UK to help those wishing to apply for the non-domestic RHI and those who have already applied. but have not yet been successfully accredited.
While the RHI scheme as it applies to the non-domestic sector may be clear cut, the fall-out from the well publicised uncertainty of the RHI in the residential sector has affected confidence in the scheme overall. The sooner the argument over Feed-in Tariffs in domestic applications is completely resolved, the better.
What is clear is that the RHI for non-domestic buildings presents a great opportunity for heat pump installers. Air-to-water heat pumps are an eligible technology under the scheme and offer the most practical, carbon efficient alternative to conventional heating technology, particularly in light commercial applications.
It is important to choose the correct air-to-water heat pump for the job in hand. For example, heat pumps typically work much more efficiently at a lower temperature than a standard boiler system would. So they are often used in underfloor heating systems or larger radiators, which give out heat at lower temperatures over longer periods of time.
Unlike other renewable technologies eligible under the RHI, air source heat pumps are also a 'fit and forget' technology. They need little maintenance and are much easier and more cost-effective to install than a ground source heat pump.
Where office or retail space is at a premium, new heat pump designs are now available which effectively combine the outdoor and indoor units into one, easy-to-install mono-bloc package.
The RHI has created a relevant and financially attractive market opportunity for contractors working in the commercial, industrial and public building space. Air-to-water heat pumps provide an attractive technology solution that, with OFGEM's support in understanding the RHI application process, will help the HVAC sector take advantage of the scheme. This way, we can work together to drive the renewable sector forward and make the carbon emission cuts that the Government demands.
// The author is country manager for Panasonic //