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‘Flawed’ RHI will not deliver renewable heat says HHIC
Published:  28 April, 2016

The Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) is ‘flawed’ says the Heating & Hotwater Industry Council (HHIC) in its response to Department of Energy & Climate Changes (DECC) Consultation: The Renewable Heat Incentive: A reformed and refocused scheme.

Stewart Clements, director of HHIC said: “The RHI is flawed and needs a clearer focus if it hopes to make any impact on our renewables targets. HHIC would like to see funding targeted at those homes that can accommodate a renewable heating system and those where the current heating system is carbon intensive.”

HHIC would also like to see:

  • The range of technologies available under the scheme broadened, particularly the inclusion of biopropane and gas absorption heat pumps.
  • Solar thermal to remain within the scheme especially as it improves the efficiency of a heat pump.
  • Support to develop the heat pump market. Increasing the tariff alone will not result in adoption of the technology.

“We are legally committed to achieving our 2020 renewable targets with the RHI the flagship policy for helping to decarbonise heat. Unfortunately, as it stands the RHI will simply not deliver.”

The Energy & Utilities Alliance (EUA) agrees that the proposed RHI policy will not make the difference industry hoped for and is fundamentally flawed both in terms of what it will cost and the reform it can deliver.

The EUA has published a report, entitled ‘RHI: A Smarter Approach’, which concludes that the RHI will not deliver a significant change to the UK heating market and is unlikely to contribute to achieving the 2020 renewables target.

Isaac Occhipinti, head of external affairs at EUA said: “Even under a favourable set of assumptions, it is anticipated that RHI will incentivise the installation of 100k renewable heating systems over the next five years. In the same period, we’d expect 8 million boilers to be installed.

“We advocate that the RHI should be used in a much more targeted way. For each sector of the housing market the most appropriate heating solution should be identified, this would deliver the most effective result both in terms of cost and carbon savings.

“There has been little appetite among consumers for the RHI to date and so effectively targeting households would allow better education and an improved understanding of the savings that could be made.”

EUA would like to see the RHI be used to replace:

  • Direct electric heating with renewables to deliver the highest carbon savings.
  • LPG with biopropane, currently not included in the RHI.

“In addition we need to continue to decarbonise the fuel we use - ‘greening’ our gas. Figures from National Grid suggest that 50% of energy demand for heat could be met by biogases by 2050, delivering renewable heat to all homes on the gas grid without any action required by the home owner,” said Mr Occhipinti.

“EUA does not believe the 2020 renewable energy target is an appropriate one for the greater aim of reducing carbon emissions in the UK. We should instead look at how we decarbonise the UK for 2050.

“Either way, if we are serious about our renewables targets then we need more than a flawed scheme. We would urge DECC to think again about how to use the limited funds available for the RHI otherwise it will be doomed to fail.”

Image courtesy of Shutterstock/Africa Studio