Image: Kingspan Renewables.

Ofgem has announced the 50,000th installation of a renewable heat incentive-accredited system, yet the future shape of the scheme remains unclear.

Ofgem’s E-Serve division announced the achievement of the milestone yesterday, confirming that it had brought the total renewable heat generated by all accredited installations to around 827,000MWh.

Gareth John, associate director of the RHI at Ofgem E-Serve, said that the division had worked hard to deliver the policy through “efficient administration”.

“We aim to provide clear guidance to homeowners and installers to make the process of applying for and complying with the domestic RHI as straightforward as possible.”

The RHI supports solar thermal as well as biomass boilers, ground and air-source heat pump installs, the latter of which have proven to be the most popular among consumers.

Solar thermal accounts for around 16% of total installs under the domestic RHI, however its comparative lack of popularity under the non-domestic side of the scheme has resulted in the technology contributing just 0.2% under the complete RHI scheme as of 31 May 2016.

Nevertheless, the Department of Energy and Climate Change’s proposal to remove support for solar thermal under the RHI by the 2017 delivery year triggered significant controversy when the plans were published in March this year.

DECC’s reasoning for stripping the technology of support hinged on a perception that it was the “least cost-effective” of the four currently eligible technologies, claiming that it represented poor value for money.

At the time Solar Trade Association chief exec Paul Barwell responded vociferously, claiming the proposals did not make “any sense” and were effectively discriminating against solar thermal.

“The government acknowledges the many benefits of solar thermal, yet proposes singling it out for the removal of financial support. With UK renewable heat deployment falling desperately behind target, government should be full square behind this technology as part of a strategic plan to permanently bring down heating costs for British families,” he said.

There is now mounting evidence to suggest that the UK will miss its 2020 renewable heat target following another marginal increase last year. The government’s decision to set the fifth carbon budget for 2028-2032 at the level recommended by the Committee on Climate Change, made last month, will therefore require a renewed focus on greater deployment of renewable heat.

The government is however yet to publish the results of its consultation on the future of the RHI despite it closing on 27 April 2016.

DECC has yet to respond to questions regarding a prospective date for the publication of the RHI consultation response at the time of publication.