Renewable Heat Incentive is welcomed by industry
Posted by Cathy Debenham on 17 March 2010 at 10:42 am
Ambitious and far-reaching were just some of the words delegates used to welcome the Renewable Heat Incentive proposals at yesterday's consultation event organised by RegenSW. However, they said that more education about renewable heat is needed if the Renewable Heat Incentive is going to succeed in boosting take up.
"In urban areas it is very difficult to sell a house without gas," said Kim Slowe, managing director of ZeroCHoldings and Ecofirst, speaking about biomass district heating he had installed in new housing developments. "Established perceptions are often a stronger sentiment than common sense. We need to educate the buying public. A lot of effort is needed. ... District heating is more attractive to developers, but purchasers still want individual fossil fuel back up systems."
Chris Miles, managing director of Econergy added to this call. "Heat and the renewable heat initiative is badly understood," he said. "How do we sell this to politicians and the media with simple messages ... Substantial education is needed. We need to do a sales job." He also pointed to the short timescale until the introduction of the scheme, and advised focusing on what we really want, and getting that right, and putting aside the "nice to have's". "We need to make it simple and get it 70% right and moving".
The scheme, which aims to incentivise the take up of renewable heat at all levels, from a one bedroom flat to district housing to industrial buildings and large scale heat from waste schemes, is the first of its kind anywhere in the world. Heat has, until now, been a poor relation compared with electricity generation, yet it makes up 60% of average domestic energy use and 47% of the UK's carbon dioxide emissions. One per cent of the UK's heat use is currently generated from renewable sources. The plans proposed by the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) have a goal of 12% by 2020, (this compares with Sweden's 40% renewable heat). This is a huge undertaking given that there are currently only 500 accredited MCS installers (Microgeneration Certification Scheme) in the UK. This contrasts with 120,000 Gas Safe installers.
This is why DECC is offering an attractive 12% rate of return to encourage the take up of renewable heat. DECC official Erich Scherer said that the scheme will cover the differential costs in installing renewable heat, and any additional fuel costs, as well as giving a return on top. The aim is to offer a rate that will incentivise commercial investors as well as domestic ones. The rate of return on solar thermal is a lower 6%. When questioned about this he said it was because uptake and awareness is already higher for solar thermal than for other technologies. "The question we've asked is how much does it need to get going? Under the Low Carbon Building Programme solar thermal got significant take up with a small grant of £400. What we are proposing is enormously more generous that what we have done so far." (The proposal is around £400 a year for 20 years for an average home).
Chris Miles also focused on the MCS scheme. While acknowledging its importance, he said it needs to change. "Having a certified installer is a good thing, but we have to think of individuals. It's not good for individuals, but it's ok for companies." On product certification he observed that the MCS scheme needs streamlining with other schemes, such as the Clean Air Act and emissions regulations - and that needs to happen quickly.
Several installers pointed to the iniquity of ommitting existing microgenerators from the scheme, saying that they had received enquiries from people wanting to rip out existing equipment and replace it so as to get the renewable heat incentive. "Why are we penalising the people who lead the way?" asked Kim Slowe. Asked about this Erich Scherer pointed out that for DECC it was a "no win situation - we have to make one or other side of the argument angry". However, he did ask people to respond to the consultation on this issue: "Now this is only a proposal. We have a fairly open question on this. We need more than anecdotal evidence.
Jo Greasley, head of the Renewable Heat Incentive team at DECC, closed the day with a plea for responses to the consultation. "There are a number of very difficult questions that need answering". The consultation document can be downloaded from the DECC website. The closing date for responses is 26 April 2010. We will be publishing much more on the renewable heat incentive proposals, and the implications for our homes on YouGen between now and then, so please keep coming back and let us know what you think.
Photo by Wili Hybrid
More information about the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) on YouGen.
Need help with any Jargon?By Cathy Debenham
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