Domestic RHI: Industry reaction

The Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) has finally revealed the details of the domestic RHI after the scheme was first trailed four years ago. Below is a comprehensive round-up of the industry’s reaction to the news:

Brian Smithers European Director Rexel:

“It has been a long time coming, but it is still great to finally see the domestic Renewable Heat Incentive policy announced. I really believe that the scheme will offer a massive boost to the renewable heat market, which makes this an exciting day for the industry. The policy has a lot of potential and it was a smart move by government to integrate the RHI with the Green Deal loan scheme to cover the upfront costs of installing the technology - which may have otherwise put people off - while still being eligible for the RHI generation tariffs.  However, consumer awareness around renewable heat is lower than  for other energy efficiency technologies. For the domestic RHI to be a success it is crucial that we learn from the Green Deal and invest in a effective communications strategy. The ball shouldn’t entirely be in the government’s court; it is also in the industry’s interest to drive awareness by educating consumers about the technologies available and their energy saving benefits!”

Kamil Shah Wagner Solar UK:

“At Wagner Solar we have invested heavily in solar thermal training through 2012 and hundreds of installers have attended our popular courses – this long anticipated news is very welcome as it will lead to a good market being created next year which many installers are already equipped to begin servicing through the sales and installation knowledge they have picked up through our courses.”

Steven Knight Navitron:

"With our systems typically costing between £3,000 and £4,000 fully installed the RHI at this level should mean a significant increase in demand for our products. We have seen a decline in solar thermal sales since the RHI was first announced and the subsequent delays in implementation have not helped us or the solar thermal industry. The public have lost confidence in the government and their commitment to the RHI, the announcement of tariff levels will go some way to restoring confidence but only the announcement of the start date will properly convince people that the scheme will actually go ahead.

"Navitron remains committed to solar thermal as a technology and we will continue to introduce new products on a regular basis. This year at Solar Energy UK we will be displaying the latest version of our HFC-2 high efficiency solar thermal panel with built-in stagnation protection along with our range of flat-plate and evacuated tube collectors, pumping stations and controllers."

Cathy Debenham Yougen:

"People wanting to invest in renewable energy technologies to heat their homes will be able to do so with confidence at last following today’s announcement of the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI).

“The uncertainty about tariff rates that we have had for the past four years has meant many people putting investment on hold, or installing a fossil fuel boiler instead. The publication of the rates, and the eligibility criteria means that people can finally make an informed decision with all the information they need.

“The continuation of the renewable heat premium payments until the end of March next year makes now an even more attractive time to invest, as people can get help with the upfront cost of installation, which is often a barrier. This grant will be deducted from the total RHI payments over the seven year life of the scheme.

“Renewable heat is more complicated than installing solar panels on your roof to generate electricity, so it important that householders who are considering investing in renewable energy do their homework, and check out the experience and quality of the installers they use. They must use an MCS accredited installer to access the RHI, but they also need to check out the installers’ experience with these new measures, ask previous customers about the quality of their installations, and check the guidance for choosing an installer on YouGen or other websites.

“Installers must take time to explain the detail to their customers, and tell them how to work the system once it is installed.”

Dave Sowden chief executive Micropower Council:

“Industry warmly welcomes the announcement of the long-awaited domestic RHI scheme which looks set to revolutionise the UK home heating market. The Micropower Council alongside the rest of our colleagues in industry have been campaigning for four years for this subsidy to come into effect, which we believe will transform the future of renewable heat in this country. Today is a positive step along the road to ensuring we hit our targets for carbon emissions reduction and renewables.

“The change to both the tariff levels and the calculation methodology since the consultation in September 2012, and in particular the raising of the so-called “value cap”, especially in the current climate of budget reduction and austerity, is a strong indication that despite the scheme delays, there is still Government support for renewable heat.

“We are delighted to see that so much of the hard work conducted by industry, often alongside policy makers, has been integrated into the final proposals. In particular, the recognition that the Green Deal and RHI could work effectively together to offer subsidised or even free heating systems to UK householders is an issue which we as an organisation felt strongly should be supported by Government.

“The technical advice that industry was able to offer DECC on the performance of heat pump systems has also seen a sensible shift in policy away from paying more subsidy for higher performing renewable heat systems- because the rewards for higher performance are already seen in reduced running costs- to a voluntary “Metering and Service Monitoring Package”.

“In the Metering and Service Monitoring Scheme consumers will be paid up to an additional £240 per year for DECC to monitor data from their systems. This should lead to better data on biomass and heat pump technologies being available, better consumer trust in renewable technologies, and a real opportunity to improve the UK’s installation and manufacturing of these exciting products.

“We are further encouraged by the Government’s decision to make the scheme as accessible as possible, with social and private landlords and self-build homes all allowed to apply for the domestic scheme as well as home owners. We especially welcome the decision to honour the original promise made that any installation installed from the 15th July 2009, the day after the scheme’s initial announcement, would be eligible for the tariffs.

RECC chief executive Virginia Graham:

“It is encouraging to see DECC learning the lessons on consumer protection from the Feed-in Tariff and Green Deal. The on-time publication of the policy detail ought to allow DECC and its partners sufficient time to put the necessary arrangements in place to allow us to ensure consumers are protected. DECC must ensure that there are tough penalties for misleading and high-pressure sales practices, and that there are effective mechanisms for conducting inspections and resolving complaints.”

REA chief executive Gaynor Hartnell:

“Whilst the intended start date for the technologies covered in the 2012 consultation, including geothermal and air source heat pumps, remains spring next year, developers still don’t know what the tariff levels will be. Nor has it been confirmed that all of these additional technologies will definitely be supported. This does not instil confidence and delays business planning.

“The REA is urging DECC to at least provide confirmation of which technologies will be supported under the second phase of the non-domestic RHI as soon as possible.”

Greg Barker, minister for energy and climate change:

Today most buildings in the UK burn fossil fuels for space and water heating. By 2030, we know that we may need up to 8.6 million building-level low carbon heating systems taking the place of our fossil fuel boilers. This scale of challenge demands a new approach, and the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) is the first of its kind in the world.

I am proud that the Coalition is breaking new ground globally in this field. The innovative nature of the domestic RHI means that it has been a challenging and time-intensive policy to develop.

We have carefully considered the huge amount of valuable evidence we have received from stakeholders, and listened to the wide range of views expressed through the consultation process.

Given the current economic climate and the need to deliver value for money through Government expenditure, it was particularly important for us to get it right. We have sought to develop a scheme that is sustainable and delivers renewable heat in the most cost-effective way, learning from past experience.

Building on the success of the Renewable Heat Premium Payment Scheme, and the non-domestic RHI, I am now confident that we have a domestic RHI policy that will drive further demand for renewable heat. The uptake of microgeneration technologies under the Feed-In Tariffs scheme has shown that renewable technologies can move from niche to mass market in just a few years, and with the support of the domestic RHI, I hope that renewable heating technologies will see such success.

Renewable energy and energy efficiency go hand in hand, which is why it is so important that the RHI works alongside the Green Deal. Renewable heating technologies work best in an energy efficient home, and reducing the size of the heating demand from each house means we can support more households through the RHI.

Together, the RHI and Green Deal should offer those off the gas grid in particular a way to a warmer, cheaper, lower carbon home.

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