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RHI scheme: what are the latest changes?

Posted by: Lauren Cox 9 Mar 16  | Renewable Energy

The Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) scheme is a hot topic in the world of renewables right now. Even more so now, after the Government opened a consultation to reform the RHI scheme last weekend.

What is the RHI scheme?

Well, it was initially introduced to support people move from conventional ways of heating their homes and businesses to renewable sources of heat. The RHI scheme is an initiative that is central to the Government’s long term plans; not only for keeping the costs down for consumers but in contributing to the UK achieving its 2020 renewable energy target of 15 per cent clean energy sources. As the Government stresses its commitment to moving towards a low carbon economy, new proposals have certainly received mixed reviews.

The big reform

While funding is set to continue until at least 2020 (according to November’s spending review), this new proposal includes slashing tariffs for biomass boilers by up to a massive 61 per cent!

These installations were once ideal, of course, for those who wanted to reduce their carbon footprint and their energy bills, whilst becoming more self-sufficient in sustainable energy. Initially, the RHI scheme made it worthwhile to produce renewable heat independently from biomass boilers. Now, according to the Renewable Energy Association, annual installations will be reduced to just 65 by 2021; a significant decline when comparing this to more than 3,000 installations last year alone.

Solar Thermal

The Department of Energy and Climate Change has also proposed in the RHI reform to remove support for solar energy by 2017.

This isn’t surprising though; we reported in our post, what are the benefits of solar energy last year that, although the UK are helping to lead the renewable movement, the UK Government were proposing to slash solar energy subsidies for small solar farms and apply carbon tax to green energy in a bid to save the population money on their energy bills.

However, as it stands, the renewable heat deployment is falling below target, in accordance to Paul Barwell, the CEO of the Solar Trade Association. He states, ”the Government should be full square behind this technology as part of a strategic plan to permanently bring down heating costs for British families.”

In addition to this, withdrawing funding for solar thermal projects as a part of the reformed RHI scheme will seriously implicate the British solar sector.

Energy Secretary, Amber Rudd, however, pronounces that this proposal aims to balance the RHI scheme, ensuring that “it delivers its objectives in a manner which is affordable and offers value for money”.

She added: “The reforms also aim to make the scheme accessible to a wider range of consumers including those less able to pay, help build sustainable markets and support the right renewable heating technologies for the right uses.”

With the consultation closing on the 27th April, hopefully the reformed changes of the RHI scheme will not affect the UK’s overall reputation for stable policy development.

 

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