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Changes to eligibility for domestic renewable heat incentive announced

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 13 November 2014 at 9:54 am

Some welcome changes to eligibility for the domestic renewable heat incentive (RHI) were announced this month by the Department of Energy & Climate Change. Subject to parliamentary process and approval of draft regulations they should come into force in spring 2015. Also coming in spring is the new biomass sustainability regulations, which must be complied with from autumn 2015 if you wish to continue receiving RHI payments.

Cooker stoves

Cooker stoves will become eligible as long as the product and installation meet all the other scheme requirements. By cooker stoves, DECC means biomass stoves with a back boiler that are predominantly designed for space and hot water cooking. Where the heat generated for cooking is incidental to, and cannot be controlled separately from, heat generated for heating and hot water. This does not include traditional range cookers which are designed for cooking. People who have a cooker stove that was installed prior to the new regulations (but after 15 July 2009) will have until 31 July 2015 (or 12 months after installation) to apply for the RHI.

High temperature heat pumps

High temperature heat pumps, which can operate at temperatures as high as 80c, will be eligible as long as they meet all scheme requirements including the minimum efficiency levels of a seasonal performance factor of 2.5. There will not be a provision for 'legacy' installations to apply for RHI for high temperature heat pumps. If you have one that is currently not eligible, you will be able to apply up until 12 months after commissioning date of the system.

MCS standards

The microgeneration certification scheme will shortly be publishing updated installation standards for heat pumps and solar thermal and an updated heat emitter guide. The regulations will be updated to refer to these new standards. There will be a transition period for the MCS standards and during that period installations can be to either the old or the new. If it is to the new, you will not be able to apply for RHI until the changes to the regulations come into force (in spring 2015). You will have 12 months from commissioning to apply.

Properties with more than one building

There has been some confusion over heating systems that provide heat to more than one building and the RHI. Changes to the regulations intend to clarify that they are eligible. However, RHI payments will continue to be based on the heat demand for the main dwelling based on an energy performance certificate (EPC), as heat going to ancilliary buildings is not eligible for RHI payments.

Examples include:

  • A dwelling plus a swimming pool in an annex
  • A dwelling plus garage, shed or outbuilding
  • A dwelling plus commercially used building such as an office, or stables

In the case of the latter, the system is also eligible for non-domestic RHI, which may be a better option.

Heating systems which provide for multiple dwellings is eligible for the non-domestic scheme.

Registered social landlords

From spring 2015 registered social landlords will no longer need to have a green deal assessment to apply to the domestic RHI. They will need to have an EPC that is less than two years old.

Biomass sustainability

Also coming in spring 2015 are the biomass sustainability RHI regulations which will require anyone claiming RHI to meet the sustainability requirements from autumn 2015. This means you will have to buy your biomass fuel from a trader registered on the biomass suppliers list or register as a self-supplier. On your annual declaration to Ofgem you will need to confirm that you are complying with this rule.

More information on YouGen

The Renwable Heat Incentive

RHI your questions answered

An introduction to biomass boilers and stoves

An introduction to heat pumps

An introduction to solar thermal

Photo credit: Joshua Davis via Compfight cc

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Comments

5 comments - read them below or add one

Cathy Debenham

Cathy DebenhamComment left on: 2 December 2014 at 4:11 pm

thanks very much Chris

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ChrisDavis

ChrisDavis from Kensa Engineering LtdComment left on: 2 December 2014 at 12:09 pm

@D Boreham, Cathy has asked me to reply to your question.  From your post, I assume you already have the heat pump installed (and working)?  This being the case, the changes to the MCS installer standard are unlikely to have any material affect on your installation, MCS accreditation or RHI application.

Specifically....

What is the significance of the up-comming changes to the MCS regulations for heat pump installation and heat emitters you refer to?

The heat emitter guide is used in part to ensure the radiators and underfloor heating systems specified with heat pumps are suitably sized to operate effectively at the flow temperature the system is designed to run at.  It has a secondary function that - as heat pump efficiency is dictated by flow temperature (and therefore the appropriate sizing of the emitters) - it provides an estimated SPF for GSHP's and ASHP's at different flow temperatures.  This SPF figure is also used as the basis for the calculation of the Renewable Heat content in the RHI.

The changes mentioned in the Yougen blog relate mainly to a new classification of air source heat pumps which - if they meet a new MCS performance standard - are now able to achieve a 2 Star rating at a flow temperature of 51C or higher.  This gives them a presumed SPF of 2.5, allowing them to be eligible for the Domestic RHI.  Unless air source heat pumps meet this new standard, the maximum flow temperature they can operate at to be consdiered eligilbe for the RHI is 50C.  However there are a limited number of products available on the market which will reach the fairly tough  performance standards required to be eligible under the new "High Temperature" heat pumps category.

Would it be better to be covered by the new standards, or do you think the current ones are likely to be better for the householder? 

As mentioned above, if you already have your heat pump installed then (unless it is one of the few that meets the eligibility criteria for High Temperature Heat Pumps) then there is nothing that will affect you.  It would only be of benefit if a) you had one of the few products on the market that are eligible and b) your system was designed to run at >50C and would therefore otherwise be ineligible for the RHI

Is this matter of timing the same for both technologies?

So far as I am aware, there is nothing in the changes that affect Solar Thermal.

Presumably the new emitter standards mean that higher emitting solar thermal panels will need to be installed - providing greater heat output but probably costing more to buy.

The heat emitter guide is designed to provide advice on appropriate radiator and underfloor heating sizing for heat pump systems only.  It does not relate to solar thermal, biomass or any other technology.  Also, you cannot claim the RHI for solar thermal for use as a space heating technology (hot water only), so there is really nothing in this announcement which will impact on your solar thermal system.

 

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D Boreham

D BorehamComment left on: 28 November 2014 at 5:14 pm

Hello Cathy

Your update on the RHI is well timed - we are on the verge of commissioning a new air source heating system and an upgrade to our old solar thermal system.

What is the significance of the up-comming changes to the MCS regulations for heat pump installation and heat emitters you refer to?

Would it be better to be covered by the new standards, or do you think the current ones are likely to be better for the householder? 

Is this matter of timing the same for both technologies?

Presumably the new emitter standards mean that higher emitting solar thermal panels will need to be installed - providing greater heat output but probably costing more to buy.

Many thanks indeed.

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Cathy Debenham

Cathy DebenhamComment left on: 18 November 2014 at 10:01 am

Hi Andrew

The regulations are still in draft. Once they are approved I guess that eligible cooker stoves will be added to the eligible products list on the Ofgem website. Until then, experience tells me it would be unwise to guess at eligibility.

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AndrewNE_Scotland

AndrewNE_ScotlandComment left on: 17 November 2014 at 9:25 pm

Hi Cathy,

I'm a bit confused by the term "cooker" stoves (do they really mean "boiler" or "backboiler" stoves?).  Are you aware of a list of RHI eligible "cooker" stoves or is a list still to be developed?  Logs and/or pellets?  On the positive side cooker stoves are potentially a less capital intensive way to provide space heating and DHW compared to gasification boilers which typically need to be installed in outbuildings.  On the negative side they are probably less efficient and require fuel to be moved into the house.  Any additional information would be helpful.

Thanks,

Andrew

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