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Increasing uptake of renewable energy systems

Dear Editor,

I read with interest the article ‘Industry cool on renewable scheme’ in the 10th August 2011 issue of H&V News. Whilst I found the article to be of interest, there are a few comments I feel I must respond to.

Recently, the Department for Energy and Climate Change released details of the Renewable Heat Premium Payment scheme, designed to run alongside the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI). This scheme, starting in August 2011 and running until March 2012, makes a one-off payment to domestic off-grid installers of qualifying renewable heating systems (not commercial), designed to help alleviate the capital expenditure of installing these systems prior to the commencement of the RHI Phase II covering domestic systems, planned for 2012. 

The Renewable Heat Premium Payment scheme is only available to qualifying domestic systems. In order to qualify, GSHP systems below 45kW, which covers the vast majority of all domestic installations, must be installed by MCS accredited installers, using accredited equipment. In order to achieve the MCS installer accreditation, installers must meet the quality assurance standards associated with the scheme, and subscribe to the REA consumer code, giving consumers confidence in the quality of the installation they are receiving. MCS accredited Heat Pumps have a minimum CoP of 3.8 (water to water units) and must comply with BS EN14511:2007 parts 1-4. These accreditations are tough to achieve, and ensure customers are not at the mercy of rogue traders.

Whilst we agree that the cost of installations of renewable heating systems can be high, we disagree that consumers are not getting sound advice from installers. The vast majority of MCS accredited GSHP installers are members of the Ground Source Heat Pump Association, and as well as promoting their own business in tough economic times, are focussed on improving the uptake of renewable energy in the face of spiralling energy bills and increased carbon footprints. The GSHPA is currently working on a set of standards for GSHP installations to ensure quality installations deliver suitable energy provisions to those consumers. There is awareness that, in the past, poor quality installations have not always delivered the results promised, but over the last 5 years there have been vast strides forward in the quality and reliability of GSHP installations. To that end, the suggestion that there are opportunities for rogue traders and unscrupulous installers are wide of the mark.

The scheme is focussed on those domestic customers currently off grid, the majority of which currently use very expensive high carbon fuels for space and water heating. The funding is also subject to other considerations, such as suitable insulation, to make sure heat is not being wastefully generated. The UK has to take serious measures now to ensure carbon reduction targets, set both nationally and by international agencies such as the EU and UN, are met. Supporting renewable energy in all forms is vital to guarantee this happens. Customers are turning to renewable energy, despite the high installation costs, not only to reduce their carbon footprints, but also to protect them from spiralling and unpredictable energy bills, and to provide peace of mind regarding energy security.

We are also disappointed that the article contained no response or comment offering a favourable point of view on the technologies supported, or welcoming the scheme. Industry insiders are disappointed that the payments will be restricted to those customers currently off the main gas grid, but largely welcome the scheme as it encourages the uptake of renewable technologies.

Yours faithfully

Matt Love

Managing director