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Industry cool on RHI announcement

Leading figures in the HVAC industry have given a mixed reception to the long-awaited Renewable Heat Incentive.

Last week, the Department for Energy and Climate Change confirmed details of the scheme, which will be initially targeted at commercial off-gas users.

However, consumers will be able to claim one-off payments from the Renewable Heat Premium Payment scheme.

The government has allocated £15 million to the RHPP, which will run until next March, unless the funding runs out earlier.

Social housing landlords have also been included, with £3m set aside from the pot for the improvement of social housing stock.

The scheme is expected to support up to 25,000 installations of renewable technology, with homeowners required to participate in surveys to record their opinions, which is intended to assist the government in improving its understanding of renewable heat technologies.

The launch received a mixed reaction from industry players.

Cathryn Hickey from National Skills Academy for Environmental Technologies said the RHPP would provide an “initial boost to renewable heat”, but added the lack of sufficient environmental technology training left opportunities for rogue traders.

BEAMA Domestic Heat Pump Association director Kelly Butler said the timing would provide installers and customers with a full heating season to make use of the scheme.

It also provided more incentive for installers to register with the Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS).

Calor Gas head of strategy Paul Blacklock questioned the inclusion of heat pumps. “The government is endorsing the use of a technology that is not guaranteed to deliver suitable energy provision to the thousands of homeowners at which it is targeted,” he said.

“Ground-source and air-source heat pumps have already been found to be seriously wanting in a study by the Energy Savings Trust last year, and in recent reports from Germany.

“The cost of installation can be as high as £17,000 so consumers need to be confident they are getting sound advice from installers.”

The RHPP scheme will be run by the Energy Saving Trust and is open to those living in England, Scotland and Wales. Applicants will be required to have insulated their homes.

Funding for solar thermal installation is available for any property, but only those not using mains gas can seek grants towards heat pumps and biomass boilers.

To qualify for funding, the equipment must be installed by installers with MCS or Solar Keymark certification.