Cut through the jargon of renewable energy

There has never been a better time to incorporate renewable technology into self-builds and refurbishments, thanks to the government’s latest ‘go-green’ initiative.

That’s the message from Yorkshire Heat Pumps owner, Michael Wright, who says the new domestic Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) Scheme – introduced in April – offers huge potential to developers and homeowners but only if they understand it.

Said Michael:

“Self-build properties and redevelopment projects offer the perfect opportunity to incorporate renewables. There’s essentially a clean canvas which can help with proper planning and seamless incorporation of the technology – whether it’s a heat pump or a biomass boiler.

“But with so much jargon surrounding the subject it can be difficult to navigate and understand the real benefits homeowners could reap for years to come. And for developers there is an opportunity to add a renewables element to a self-build or refurbished property which can offer a genuine bonus for your clients and be a great selling point.”

Here are Michael’s answers to a number of the most frequently asked questions.

What is the Renewable Heat Incentive Scheme?

RHI is a world first – a government scheme which incentivises homeowners to switch to a renewable energy heating system.  It pays people for every kilowatt hour of renewable energy they generate. Domestic RHI payments are made quarterly over a seven year period.

A non-domestic scheme was launched in 2011, and has just been extended to the domestic market.

Why has it been introduced?

The government has a tough carbon reduction target to hit by 2020 when 12% of the UK’s heating must come from renewable sources. The only way they can expect to hit this is by encouraging people to move away from fossil fuels. And the most effective way to do is by offering a financial incentive.

Can anyone claim?

Domestic RHI is for new installations of eligible renewable heating systems. It is also available to people who have installed eligible systems since July 2009, if, and only if their installations were done by appropriately accredited installers, who must have Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS) accreditation. It will also need to have been registered on the government’s MCS Installation Database (MID) by 22 October 2013.

Domestic RHI does not apply to new build properties.

What is MCS?

The government backed Microgeneration Certification Scheme sets stringent standards that all providers are encouraged to work to. Only MCS accredited installers can register a system on the MCS Installation Database, and only once registered can homeowners go on to apply for RHI payments. The great thing about MCS is that it has consumer interest and protection at its heart: and represents a real badge of quality.

Which heating technologies are eligible to receive domestic RHI payments?

Ground source heat pumps, biomass boilers, air source heat pumps and solar thermal panels are eligible for domestic RHI.

What will homeowners get paid?

Homeowners are paid a tariff for every kilowatt hour (kWh) of renewable energy they generate, which varies depending on which technology they install. The tariff paid is expected to go down as uptake of renewables grows and the government closes in on its carbon reduction target, so getting in quickly is likely to see homeowners reap the best returns.

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How is the energy generated measured, to work out what the homeowner will be paid?

RHI payments are calculated by taking the Total Annual Heat and Hot Water Demand for the individual property, less the electrical energy required to generate that heat and hot water, which gives a figure called the Total Eligible Heat Demand. This is then multiplied by the tariff for the homeowner’s technology to arrive at the annual RHI payment.

Total Eligible Heat Demand kWh x tariff = RHI payment per year

Homeowners can also opt to install a meter and be paid an additional flat rate per annum for seven years if they take up a Metering and Monitoring package. This is £230 per annum for a heat pump and £200 per annum for a biomass boiler.

Where do these heat demand figures come from?

The Heat Demand figures come from the Energy Performance Certificate (EPC), which is produced as part of the Green Deal Assessment (GDA), which must be completed for a property before homeowners can apply for RHI payments.

It’s crucial developers or homeowners find a suitably qualified and registered Green Deal Assessor to undertake this. There are sadly some rogue traders out there claiming to offer this service but without the proper accreditation.

Homeowners can find a registered Green Deal Assessor by searching on the Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) Green Deal Assessor database: http://gdorb.decc.gov.uk/consumersearch

It’s also important to have a full heat loss survey conducted for the property, as this provides detailed room by room heat loss calculations and this information is used to size the boiler or heat pump correctly. Nobody wants to go to the lengths of incorporating a renewable heating technology that is either over specified and costs more that it needs, or that is underspecified and struggles to heat the property comfortably.

Yorkshire Heat Pumps and its sister company Michael Wright Kitchens and Interiors are based at showroom premises just outside Harrogate and Ilkley. Yorkshire Heat Pumps specialises in the thoughtful and stylish incorporation of renewable energy heating systems from Swedish renewables giant, NIBE, and German biomass experts, Windhager.