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Is my solar thermodynamic system eligible for RHI?

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 12 January 2015 at 11:46 am

This blog was amended on 14 January 2014 in light of the comment from Celtic Renewable Energy below

Q: I have a solar thermal installation ECO 200esm manufactured by Energie thermodynamics. I have applied for the RHI (renewable heat incentive) and been refused by Ofgem. I have a green deal certificate, EPC and an MCS (Microgeneration Certification Scheme) certificate. The installation has produced 100% of my water heating for over 2 years. At the time of the installation I was informed the system would qualify when RHI was brought in. Can you help please?

A: I am afraid that your installer misled you if they said you would definitely get RHI. There are two distinct ways of using solar to heat water. One is solar thermal panels, which are eligible for the RHI. The other is thermodynamic panels which are not currently eligible. 

While your installer may have been MCS accredited for solar thermal, he won't have had accreditation for installing thermodynamic panels as this does not exist yet. No thermodynamic panels have been accredited either.

Some brands of thermodynamic panel (including Energie) have the European Solar Keymark accreditation. MCS accepts this as equivalent for solar thermal and solar PV panels, but not currently for thermodynamics. To be eligible for RHI both installer and product must be MCS accredited. When thermodynamics first came to the UK installers could issue an MCS certificate because of the Solar Keymark. However, that decision was subsequently revoked, and it was decided that specific standards for thermodynamics were needed.

MCS is in the process of deciding what standards it should apply for this technology and it is anticipated that it will be eligible for RHI (eventually, probably). However, I think it is unlikely that legacy installations will be be able to claim.

There is always a risk in installing before the legislation is in place that it might change from the original consulation document. If getting the financial incentive is key to your decision to install it's always better wait until the scheme is up and running. 


More information about the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) on YouGen.

More information about Solar Thermal on YouGen.

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If you have a question about anything in the above blog, please ask it in the comments section below.

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3 comments - read them below or add one

Andy in Hawick

Andy in HawickComment left on: 30 April 2015 at 11:27 am

Fair point Vivien. The change in attitude is problematic. It is linked with these technologies being adopted by a wider demographic, which is a good thing, but it does mean that the incentive is radically different.

It would be good to see some of these technologies officially accepted so that more people can benefit. The comments here underline the importance of the FiT & RHI schemes as they are not only drivers but touchstones for many people.

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Sarah Miller

Sarah MillerComment left on: 27 April 2015 at 4:50 pm

I have also had the same panel fitted. This was in November 2012. When it was installed I was told that it would definitely be eligible for the RHI but that they couldn't guarentees the amount. Last summer I paid for an EPC to be done and was horrified when I put the information into the website to be told my system was not eligible. I challenged the company who put the panel in but to no avail. Furious and gutted :(

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Cathy Debenham

Cathy DebenhamComment left on: 15 January 2015 at 9:07 am

Comment from Vivien Turner, director, Celtic Renewable Energy

Our company fitted a few Thermodynamic systems when they first became available in 2010 – we did not continue with them because we found them to be troublesome.

However at the time, which was pre RHI, they were given an MCS certificate and it was acknowledged by Ofgem that when the RHI commenced they would be eligible.   Consequently this would have been the information that we passed on to the customer, in the same way that we told them about solar thermal systems being eligible when the RHI scheme commenced.

As it turned out DECC changed the criteria and the Thermodynamic systems were not listed on the Accredited Product list. So it is fair to say that it might not have been  the installation company that misled the customer – if the dates correspond with the erratic procedures influenced  by  Ofgem, then it was that organisation that misled.   Furthermore your advice to your blogger only adds fuel to the current blame and claim  culture that is rife in the UK which helps nobody except the legal fraternity.

True if your blogger has installed a system since that time then the installer should have told them that it was not on the list – but your blog needs to clarify the situation.

Contrary to what many would like to believe – not all  RE installation companies are rip-off merchants. Some of us are long established and respectable companies with the best  interests of our customers at heart.

Time was when we fitted renewable products because people wanted to “make a difference” sadly that has changed and now the very first question they ask us is “how much can I make!”

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