DECC proposes efficiency criteria for RHI

24th September 2012

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Organisations wanting to claim payments under the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) will have to prove their building is energy efficient, under new proposals from DECC

In a new consultation on expanding the number of technologies eligible for subsidies under the non-domestic RHI, the energy department has also suggested that commercial and industrial applicants should be required to demonstrate their buildings are energy efficient.

No energy-efficiency requirements where included in the scheme when it was launched in November 2011, because it was thought to be too complex to create a single standard across the diverse range of buildings covered.

To combat this issued DECC proposes splitting applicants into three groups: organisations using heat from processes (such as steel manufacture); district heating schemes (installations which supply heat to multiple domestic properties); and commercial and industrial users (such as supermarkets or office blocks).

Process heat users would be exempt from proving energy efficiency under the proposals as they are subject to the Carbon Reduction Commitment, while district heating schemes would have to ensure efficiency measures had been put in place at a specified portion of the domestic properties in the scheme (at least 70%).

Commercial and industrial applicants, however, would have to prove the energy efficiency of their building to be able to claim payments for any renewable heat being generated.

“Energy efficiency is at the forefront of reducing our carbon emissions and the forthcoming green deal will help households and businesses with the up-front costs of installing efficiency measures,” states energy minister Greg Barker in the opening to the consultation.

“We recognise that it is not appropriate to apply the same requirements for multiple households, large commercial buildings and industrial applications. Therefore, we are seeking views on how we can best combine energy efficiency with the expansion of renewable heat.”

With a range of different initiatives available to assess and certify the energy performance of buildings, including BREEAM and display energy certificates, the energy department is consulting on whether it would be best to allow a range of methods to be used and set minimum of standards for each method.

Alongside a new energy-efficiency requirement, DECC is also proposing increasing the level of support under the RHI for deep geothermal heat, from 3p per kilowatt hour to 5p/kWh. It is also suggesting new support levels for biogas installations over 200kW; biomass- and bioliquid-powered combined heat and power stations; and air-to-air heat pumps.

In a separate consultation, DECC has set out is plans to expand the RHI scheme to include air to water heat pumps, and a broader variety of feedstocks for energy from waste plants – adapting the eligibility criteria used in the Renewables Obligation.

The Renewable Energy Association (REA) welcomed DECC’s proposals saying that renewable heat technologies have a major role to play in cutting the UK’s carbon emissions.

“Renewable heat has been the sleeping giant of UK renewable energy policy,” said The REA’s head of policy Paul Thompson. “We are delighted the government has published these proposals on time.”


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