Improvements to the non-domestic Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) that were proposed by the government back in December 2013 have come into effect today.

The government has increased support for renewable Combined Heat and Power (CHP) plants, large biomass boilers (over 1MW), deep geothermal, ground source heat pumps, solar thermal and biogas combustion >200kWth. In addition, the government is adding support for air-water heat pumps and commercial-scale energy from waste.

Reacting to the changes, chief executive Dr Nina Skorupska said: “The RHI is now a truly world-leading renewable energy policy. Almost all renewable heat applications are now supported under the scheme, offering businesses greater choice than ever before on how to sustainably meet their heating needs.”

The Solar Trade Association has warmly welcomed the increase in support for solar thermal to 10p/kWh a factor that Stuart Elmes, chair of the STA solar thermal working group, will make a significant difference. Elmes said: “The extra support for solar heating means that the economics will now stack up for more projects. More swimming pools, sports centres, food factories and hospitals will now be able to afford year-round heating from the sun. We have also proposed that future improvements should include front-loading RHI payments for solar into the first seven years, as with the domestic scheme, to help businesses get over payback hurdles.”

The department of energy and climate change (DECC) has also proposed changes to the way it manages the budget for the RHI. DECC is reducing tariff degression triggers for large biomass, biomethane injection and ground source heat pumps and increasing degression tariffs for biomass.

The newly-formed Wood Heat Association (WHA), which announced its affiliation to the REA last week, also welcomed the changes. Julian Morgan-Jones, interim chairman of the WHA, concluded: “Under the previous cost-control mechanisms, wood heat was being unnecessarily constrained in order to preserve head room in the budget for heat pumps that was clearly not going to be used. The revised cost control mechanisms more closely match real world deployment and will ensure that wood heat can maximise its contribution to cost-effective emissions savings and renewable energy targets.”