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Countdown to the RHI

Two months ahead of the anticipated parliamentary approval of the RHI scheme, the Air Conditioning and Heat Pump Institute (ACHPI) says that installers are giving the scheme a cautious welcome ahead of further details being released.
Countdown to the RHI
When the Government announced the RHI in March, the main concerns voiced by industry concerned the absence of detail, the exclusion of air source heat pumps (ASHP), and the delay in details over eligibility criteria.

The eligibility criteria are expected to be revealed some time in May, before to the parliamentary approval. However, ASHPs will not be eligible at the start of the RHI, although deep geothermal and water source heat pumps will, under tariffs set for ground source heat pumps (<100 kWth = 4.3 p/kWh - 100 kWth and above 3 p/kWh). RHI payments claimed will be paid to the owner of the heat installation (or producer of biomethane), quarterly over a 20-year period.

John Ellis of the ACHPI said: 'The revelation that air source heat pumps will not be eligible for the RHI for the first phase was a great disappointment.'

He continued: 'The decision appears to have been influenced by the results of the recent EST trials but also difficulties in calculating the actual 'renewable heat' element vs. electrical or fossil fuel input. The good news is that subsequent discussions with DECC have revealed that air source heat pumps will definitely be included in phase 2.'

The first phase of the introduction of the RHI will provide long-term tariff support for renewable heat technologies in the non-domestic sector and not, as many expected, for the domestic sector, which will not be included until October 2012.

Non-domestic installations that meet eligibility criteria and were installed and commissioned on or after 15 July 2009 will be able to claim support under the RHI scheme. The same applies to domestic installations, subject to eligibility criteria that are yet to be confirmed, however MCS accreditation is known to be one of the main criteria for small and medium sized plants up to and including 45 kWth.

In both cases RHI payments will not be made retrospectively, but will become eligible as if they had been installed on the date the RHI is introduced.

While the first phase of the RHI will only benefit the non-domestic sector, the Government is introducing Renewable Heat Premium Payments for the domestic sector. A fund of approximately £15 million has been ring-fenced to enable payments to be made to households who install renewable heating systems. These payments will include ASHP and the proposed premium payment is for £850. However, unlike the LCBP grants, eligibility will extend beyond MCS certification. The full details of the roll out, including who will administer the premium payments, and how the £15 million will be distributed are not expected to be announced before May.

Since the Government announcement, the ACHPI has organised a number of meetings and workshops, to start in July, including industry representation, to help determine eligibility and how government might best meet the principal objectives of the Premium Payments Scheme. The key objectives to tackle will be:

• To support up to 25,000 Renewable Heat installations in the domestic sector.
• To provide a fair spread of technologies across all regions of Great Britain.
• To develop a monitoring process to allow stakeholders understand and get the most out of renewables.
• Key focus on off-gas-grid properties.
• Provide clear eligibility criteria including well-insulated homes based on EPC.

For more information visit: www.ior.org.uk/achpi
13 April 2011

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