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Solar News: Renewable Heat Incentive “Tariffs Announcement” Delayed until Feb 2011.

Filed under: Latest News

Why is the RHI being delayed – yet again?

Clean Energy Cashback = Feed in Tariffs + Renewable Heat Incentive. CECB = FIT + RHI. RHI covers solar thermal (solar water heating swh) also heat pumps and biomass heating. RHI solar news. Green grants UK news. RHI subsidy.

Dear Renewable Energy Readers,

I have just heard that the UK’s Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) announcement on tariffs (saying how much would be paid to users of solar heat, be they users of eligible wood stoves, heat pumps or solar thermal) will be further delayed until “early/mid February”. This new delay to the RHI’s implementation is unfortunate.

The cause is, apparently, one of our two renewable energy technology / microgeneration bedfellows (heat pumps and wood stoves), which are also to be subsidised by the Renewable Heat Incentive.

1/ There are real medical concerns with promoting wood stoves in polluted cities. Indeed London already faces prosecution for breaching EU air quality guidelines: air pollution kills more people than car accidents, according to some estimate. Any extra wood smoke will kill even more Londoners, manly the young, the old and asthmatics.

2/ I also suspect some behind the scenes wrangling on heat pumps performance claims, since in about 50% of homes (mains gas homes) their carbon savings will be nil or minimal.

3/ A possible strategic benefit for users of Solartwin solar water heating systems of this delay is that:

(a) Legionella blind spots, which currently allow “the solar thermal industry” to speciously promote the least safe solar thermal systems as “best practice in solar heating” and

(b) overclaiming of mains pumped solar heating systems (by not deducting the electrical energy used by old fashioned solar pumps etc).

I hope that perhaps the extra time might allow both to have enough time to be addressed in favour of, respectively, (a) safety and (b) the environment. But this thinking might just be my general optimism.

Rather than suggesting a “rural-only” approach for wood stoves, and an “off-the-gas-grid-only” approach for heat pumps, some renewable energy trade bodies are being pressed by their greedy members to take an unhelpful “fit them everywhere” approach. PR-wise, this gung-ho approach may backfire on the microgeneration industry: it is better to be safe than sorry.

On the possible knock-on effects of this timing, this is what the Renewable Energy Association (REA) wrote to Solar Twin Ltd as one of its members today:

“Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) update

Following the failure to get decision documents out before Christmas, we now have the latest information on RHI timings.

DECC has taken all the decisions that are within its power, but the documents are delayed for approval from other departments. The main sticking point is air quality, where DECC [Department of Energy And Climate Change] and Defra [Department of Environment Food and Rural Affairs] have been unable to reach agreement. There are also still discussions with Treasury, although these are on relatively minor ‘in-year’ accounting details. This is a significant step forward, as the threat of tariff reductions before the first planned review (a very real threat for the Feed-in Tariffs) now seems to be off the table.

The current situation is that the documents will not be published in January, with early/mid February more likely. The timetable is then very tight. There will be a fresh consultation, before the regulations are approved by Parliament. The European Commission also needs to give State Aids approval.

If the documents are published by mid-February, the June/July start date is still reasonable (although July is more likely). If this deadline is missed, however, then the start date will slip further – to the Autumn, or possibly even later.

We therefore need to apply maximum pressure to get these issues resolved urgently…”

Dear Solar Technology / Green Energy Readers,

Here is a lobbying request: please could you write to ministers and any political contacts you have yourselves. We can’t stress enough the value of letters direct from members of the public. I hope this update is useful, even if disappointing. Fortunately at Solar Twin Ltd, our PV (solar electric) products are proving very popular, thanks to a handsome feed in Tariffs subsidy.

If you are able to write to your MP with a brief expression of concern about UK government foot-dragging on the implementation of renewable Heat Incentive (RHI), here is a link which is easy to use: http://www.writetothem.com/

Many thanks. I’ll do my best to keep you posted on all the latest government incentives – and bungles – on green energy. Regards, Barry.


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