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Ofgem to act over poor RHI uptake

Ofgem is to stage a series of events to raise awareness of the Renewable Heat Incentive following low levels of response to the scheme, launched last November.

As this issue of H&V News went to press, a mere 10 accreditations had been granted from a total of 299 applications.

However, the number of applications is increasing and has hit four per day on average, said Ofgem, which is administering the RHI.

The events, planned for this month and April, will advise on the requirements of meeting eligibility criteria to gain accreditation, which includes stating the correct heat capacity figure for each installation.

Building & Engineering Services Association head of sustainability David Frise (pictured) said: “There is a potential issue with heat metering that could undermine the whole RHI scheme.

“A lack of guidance and standards for the installation and calibration of heat meters means the critical data, used to decide the level of RHI payments received by the system owner, could be inaccurate,” he added.

“B&ES is working with Ofgem and other industry partners to plug this knowledge gap with specific guidance, which should be published shortly. Installers will need to pay careful attention to this potential Achilles heel.”

Concern was also expressed by HHIC director Roger Webb in relation to a lack of information on the domestic version of RHI, due later this year, and also low take-up of the Renewable Heat Premium Payment, due to close at the end of this month.

“HHIC would like to see the RHPP scheme extended beyond the end of March to provide a bridge to the full RHI.

“Ongoing incentives will be essential to ensure a continuing demand for renewable heating, to gain more ‘in use’ experience of these technologies and to maintain the supply chain so that it is ready when demand increases.”

Mr Webb said greater certainty was required for RHPP customers to know what they would receive under the RHI.

There was a need for more promotion and installers were key to delivering this, he said.

Lochinvar managing director David Pepper said: “The government needs to tackle the damaging misconception that the RHI is primarily aimed at the biomass and biogas markets.

“Almost all the applications so far have been for biomass, but the scheme should also provide a much-needed boost for heat pumps and solar thermal.”

Although the workshops are a good idea, Ofgem needs to simplify the application process to stimulate demand and help contractors struggling to keep pace with funding and regulation changes, he said.