Ofgem, the administrator for the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) scheme, has revealed serious problems with the application process after initial figures show that 95 percent of all applicants are returned.

The figures outlined in Ofgem’s first quarterly report show that, out of 376 applications, only 20 installations were approved to receive RHI patments.

According to the energy watchdog, almost all applications had to be returned because applicants either; did not contain all the necessary supporting information, did not provide enough information or contained inconsistent information.

In waiting for the issues outlined above to be resolved, Ofgem is experiencing significant delays in the process of RHI applications.

The main area of confusion for applicants appears to centre on the metering requirements of the scheme. Currently, metering can be classed as either ‘simple’ or ‘complex’. If a system is deemed to be the latter, participants will receive payments only on heat used, therefore the systems will require meters to measure the heat used for eligible purposes, and additional meters to calculate what fraction of this heat was supplied by an RHI-eligible source.

In order to alleviate the issues plaguing the application process Ofgem has published a Frequently Asked Questions document and committed to providing additional guidance on the level of detail and types of information expected at each stage of the application process. Ofgem “are continually reviewing and improving our IT systems and business processes to further improve and streamline the applicant process.”

As of March 31, a disappointing 5.25MW of capacity had been accredited to the scheme. Of the 20 installs registered, 13 renewable heat installations have been accredited in England, with a further 6 in Scotland and 1 in Wales.

The dire success rate of applicants will further compound frustrations of those operating in the renewable heat market after the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) announced that it would launch a second phase to the Renewable Heat Premium Payment (RHPP) scheme instead of rolling out the domestic Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) as originally planned. The domestic RHI is now slated to begin in 2013.

This is not the first time that Ofgem has been criticised for its handling of applications; the ROO-FiT scheme, also administered by the watchdog, has long been plagued by excessive delays and solar PV installation figures collated by Ofgem have constantly appeared to lag behind actual deployment figures.

Ofgem urges all prospective applicants to carefully consider all requirements of the RHI application process before applying to ensure there is no delay in gaining approval.