New RHI heat pump guidance from Ofgem

By Katie Anderson on December 13th, 2012

Energy regulator Ofgem has put an end to confusion surrounding the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) and heat pumps by issuing new guidance to calculate payments. 

Up until now there has been a problem calculating RHI payments for ground source heat pump systems that are used to provide heat as well as cool a building, given that heat is returned from the building back underground for storage during the cooling process. However Ofgem has taken an approach which essentially can be used as a ‘ready-reckoner’ of the amount of ‘first time’ heat that is extracted from the ground. The Ground Source Heat Pump Association first suggested taking such an approach.

If a ground source heat pump has been installed to provide heating only 100% of the heat produced will be eligible to receive RHI payments, which were introduced to encourage the uptake of renewable heating technologies. For heating and cooling ground source heat pump systems 72.3% of the kilowatt hours of heat produced will qualify for RHI payments, as long as the heat pump is no larger than 100kW and systems above 100kW will achieve 64.7%.

To determine the figures the average efficiency of a heat only ground source heat pump was compared with the efficiency of a system which provides heating and cooling and worked backwards. Now that Ofgem has issued this clarification – which has been validated by independent  technical consultants – it will enable home owners who have installed these systems to apply for RHI tariff payments with confidence. Ofgem has said it will review the method within twelve months.

It should be note, however, that the recommended approach is by no means binding. There is nothing preventing applicants with mixed cooling and heating systems to submit their RHI applications that have sourced alternative calculations.

Commenting on Ofgem’s new guidance GI Energy Development Director Chris Davidson said they welcomed the clarification: “Instead of having some complicated formula, or having applications held up in processing, the guidelines recommended by Ofgem are simple, easy to apply and clear. They will encourage people who want to take advantage of the fantastic energy efficiencies of ground source heat pump systems.”


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