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OFTEC claims new domestic RHI scheme is only for the rich

The Government’s £1.8 billion Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) scheme, expected to be launched in the next few days, is costly, impractical and unlikely to attract mass consumer support, says OFTEC.

Figures from the Energy Saving Trust show that homeowners face upfront costs of between £8,000 and £14,000 to install renewable heating systems, depending on the size of the property and the technology used.

OFTEC believes the initial cost of installing renewable technologies is likely to be prohibitive for all but the wealthy few (unless homeowners are prepared to take out a loan), making it unlikely that the vast majority will take up the scheme.

OFTEC director general Jeremy Hawksley commented: “Whilst we support the need to reduce CO2 emissions from heating and recognise the potential of an RHI policy, the current scheme is highly unlikely to benefit the large majority of rural households as they simply will not be able to afford it.

“We suggest a more stepped transition to low carbon heat which, amongst a range of approaches, would see hybrid solutions with condensing boilers working in tandem with heat pumps.

“Supported by the Heating & Hot Water Industry Council (HHIC), this option is recognised in the RHI although only the renewable element of the heat will be grant aided and the high initial capital cost of the renewable equipment will deter the vast majority of homeowners from going down this road.

“These hybrid systems would be much more palatable to the consumer with minimal disruption as existing radiator installations can be used.”

OFTEC proposes the re-introduction of the boiler scrappage scheme which ran in 2010 to encourage homeowners to replace old, inefficient boilers with modern condensing boilers.

Jeremy Hawksley continues: “A simple, boiler scrappage scheme would attract far more supporters than the proposed RHI and thus go further in helping households reduce CO2 output - as well as cut fuel bills.”

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