The Government’s £2.9bn domestic Renewable Heat Incentive scheme due to be launched in spring 2014 is, as it stands, costly, impractical and unlikely to attract consumers unless the focus changes, OFTEC has said.
Figures from the Energy Saving Trust show the cost of installing renewable technologies will be prohibitive for all but a few, even with RHI payments.
Additionally, the cost savings from renewable heating systems do not justify the conversion costs even with RHI, which will only pay subsidies for seven years.
At present, the average cost to heat a three-bedroom home using the government’s favoured renewable technology, an air-source heat pump, is only £8 less expensive per annum than using a modern condensing oil boiler.
According to OFTEC, the cost, disruption and impracticability of installing heat pumps will also deter many consumers as, to work effectively, they either need new over-sized radiators to be fitted (although, in the majority of cases, there won’t be space for these), and/or underfloor heating.
These systems will impose considerable disruption on homeowners. Homes also need to be fully insulated and, as many rural properties that the government is targeting are old (pre-1914), cavity wall insulation is often not an option.
OFTEC director-general Jeremy Hawksley said: “Whilst we recognise the need to reduce CO2 emissions from heating and the potential benefit of the RHI policy, it is unlikely to attract the support it needs to make an impact on the UK’s carbon footprint.
“We suggest a more stepped transition to low carbon heat which would see hybrid, or bivalent, solutions with oil or bio-liquid condensing boilers working in tandem with heat pumps.
“This option is recognised in the RHI although only the renewable element of the heat will be grant aided and the high capital cost of the renewable equipment will deter the vast majority of homeowners.”