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Heat Pump Institute gives cautious welcome to RHI but still has 'serious concerns'

The Air Conditioning and Heat Pump Institute (ACHPI) has given a cautious welcome to the announcement of the Renewable Heat Incentive, but the absence of detail and doubts cast over eligibility were however the cause of serious concern, ACHPI said

“The revelation that air source heat pumps will not be eligible for the RHI for the 1st phase was a great disappointment” said John Ellis of ACHPI. “The decision appears to have been influenced by the results of the recent EST trials but also difficulties in calculating the actual ‘renewable heat’ element vs. electrical or fossil fuel input. The good news is that subsequent discussions with DECC have revealed that air source heat pumps will definitely be included in Phase 2 of the RHI.”

The  first phase will provide long term tariff support for renewable heat technologies in the non-domestic sector and not, as many expected, for the domestic sector, which will not be included until October 2012.

Air source heat pumps will not be eligible at the start of the RHI but deep geothermal and water source heat pumps will.

RHI payments claimed will be paid to the owner of the heat installation (or producer of biomethane), quarterly over a 20-year period.

Domestic eligibility criteria and other details are expected to be revealed some time in May, two months ahead of the anticipated parliamentary approval for the scheme.

Non-domestic installations that meet eligibility criteria and were installed and commissioned on or after 15th July 2009 will be able to claim support under the RHI scheme. The same applies to domestic installations, subject to eligibility criteria that are yet to be confirmed. However MCS accreditation is known to be one of the main criteria for small and medium sized plants up to and including 45kWth. In both cases RHI payments will not be made retrospectively but will become eligible as if they had been installed on the date the RHI is introduced.  

Whilst the 1st phase of the RHI will only benefit the non-domestic sector, the government is introducing Renewable Heat Premium Payments for the domestic sector. A fund of approximately £15 million has been ring-fenced to enable payments to be made to households who install renewable heating systems. These payments will include air source heat pumps and the proposed premium payment for ASHP is £850. However, unlike the Low Carbon Building Programme grants, eligibility will extend beyond MCS certification, ACHPI said Again, full details, including who will administer the premium payments, how the £15 million will be distributed amongst the eligible renewable heat technologies and how the payments can be claimed are not expected to be announced before May.

Since the DECC announcement there have been a number of meetings and workshops, including industry representation, to help determine eligibility and how government might best meet the principal objectives of the Premium Payments Scheme, which it said are:

1)   To start July this year.

2)   To support up to 25,000 Renewable Heat installations in the domestic sector.

3)   To provide a fair spread of technologies across all regions of Great Britain.

4)   To develop a monitoring process to allow stakeholders understand and get the most out of renewables.

5)   Key focus on off-gas-grid properties.

6)   Provide clear eligibility criteria including well-insulated homes based on Energy Performance Certificates

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