Popularity of domestic RHI in doubt

By Katie Anderson on July 29th, 2014

Launched in April to encourage households to switch to renewable forms of heating, the domestic Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) is the first of its kind. Despite take up described by the industry as “deeply depressing”, the Government continues to maintain that the scheme is “proving popular.”

Air source heat pumpFigures published last month have revealed that by the end of May just 79 households had chosen to install renewable energy technologies as part of the scheme since it was launched. But the Government has played down any concerns that the domestic RHI is following in the beleaguered Green Deal’s footsteps.

Speaking about the level of interest, the Department of Energy and Climate Change has hit back at any concerns, saying the figures are in line with targets set by the Government. With over 2,000 applications made for the domestic RHI, a total of 1,075 low carbon installations have been accredited under the scheme, figures show.

However it is still very early days for the scheme, which has to contend with a continued lack of awareness – as does the technology it supports. Like the Green Deal, the lack of awareness surrounding the RHI is a big problem for the industry. A problem highlighted in a survey conducted by renewable heating group Innasol earlier in the year.

Over 2,000 people took part in the survey, which revealed more than 40% of those asked would be open to doing more to address climate change if there were the financial incentives there to support them. It highlights a lack of publicity and awareness for schemes like the Green Deal, RHI and even the Energy Company Obligation. Financial assistance is available but sadly not enough people seem to be in the know.

Commenting on their findings, Innasol’s chief financial officer, David Rae said: “There is still a huge lack of awareness about renewable heat and more importantly the existence of the RHI scheme itself.

“We believe the lack of awareness of the domestic RHI scheme is a major problem for the industry and more needs to be done by the Government.”

The domestic RHI went live on 9th April and is open to households who have had low carbon heating technologies installed since July 2009, providing financial rewards for people generating renewable heating. Four technologies are supported under the RHI: air source heat pumps, biomass boilers, ground source heat pumps and solar water heating. However the scheme has been subjected to budget constraints and delays since the non-domestic RHI was launched back in 2011.

Air source heat pumps remain the most popular of the four technologies, achieving 41% of applications made, followed by solar thermal (24%) and biomass (22%). Ground source heat pumps received 14% of all applications.


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