What the domestic RHI means for air source heat pumps
Posted by Chris Davis on 11 October 2012 at 9:40 am
The long awaited details of how the Government will support householders who install renewable heating systems have been announced at last. The RHI (renewable heat incentive) is due to be introduced in the summer of 2013, and one of the answers most keenly awaited has been whether or not air source heat pumps would be included.
Well, the answer is very clearly yes, and air source heat pumps are expected to be one of the most popular technologies installed under the scheme.The proposals issued by Government last week are at “consultation” stage, so things could still change. It is also quite complex with some areas of the scheme still needing a lot more work, but here are the most relevant issues concerning air source heat pumps:
Eligibility for RHI
The RHI will be available to any householder wishing to replace their existing system with a renewable heat technology. The list of technologies includes air to water heat pumps, but excludes air to air heat pumps and exhaust air heat pumps.
The installation must also comply with MCS (both installer and product must be accredited under the Microgeneration Certification Scheme) and suitable energy efficiency measures, identified as green ticks in a Green Deal assessment, must also be met.The homeowner or the landlord will receive the RHI, and second homes won’t be eligible.
Heat pump efficiency levelsDECC is keen to ensure that heat pump installations funded under the RHI perform to an acceptable standard of efficiency. The proposal is that all systems must be able to demonstrate a minimum Seasonal Performance Factor of 2.5 or higher. There may be some enhanced incentives for systems which provide monitoring information to the user or can demonstrate much higher levels of efficiency.
RHI tariff level and scheme duration
The RHI will offer tariff payments over 7 years which will be made on the basis of “deemed” heat usage (a calculation for the expected heat usage for the property). The calculation method for this has still to be agreed.
The domestic RHI is intended to be a “boiler replacement scheme”, so proposals on tariffs have been designed to compensate for the additional upfront costs of renewable heat compared to the fossil fuel alternative, as well as other non-financial barriers including the perceived “hassle factor” of changing to a new technology. My previous blog on this gives an outline of what these costs might look like. The tariffs have been structured to provide a better return for home owners who are off the gas grid.
A tariff of between 6.7p and 11.5p per kWh of renewable heat generated is being considered for air source heat pumps. The consultation is asking for more evidence of installation costs in certain scenarios to ensure the final tariffs are correct.
As an example of what this means for a typical UK home and assuming a tariff towards the higher end of the proposal, this would provide an RHI payment of around £2,000 per year, plus of course any additional energy bill savings. So on the face of it, the scheme could be very attractive for air source heat pumps.
The scheme assumes that in most cases the heat pump will be installed to replace an existing boiler and in order to receive the tariff you will be expected to remove your existing boiler (to prevent you using your fossil fuel boiler and still claiming the RHI). However, it will be possible to install an air source heat pump in conjunction with an existing boiler to work in “bivalent” mode, as long as you install a meter to measure exactly how much heat the heat pump is producing.
Will existing air source heat pump installations be eligible for RHI?
If you’ve already got an air source heat pump installed, then the good news is that you could be eligible to receive the RHI payments too. If your system was installed after July 2009, is MCS accredited and was installed by an MCS installer you can claim the RHI. This includes those funded under the RHPP, You will also have to meet the energy efficiency criteria. Heat pumps installed in a “new build” property are not eligible.
What next?The consultation closes in early December and we expect to get formal announcement of the RHI scheme – including confirmation of the tariff rates - before the end of March next year.
If you have a question about anything in the above blog, please ask it in the comments section below.
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