Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) FAQ

What is the RHI?

RHI stands for 'Renewable Heat Incentive', which is an incentive scheme, starting in April 2011 in the UK, intended to reward those who invest in renewable heating systems

What Technologies Qualify?

Virtually any heat-source which is renewables-powered. For most individuals, solar thermal, heatpumps and biomass are the most interesting options.

What are the proposed Tariffs, and how long will I receive them?

Technology Proposed Tariff Duration
Solid Biomass 9p/kWh 15years
Bioliquids 6.5p/kWh 15years
Biogas 5.5p/kWh 10years
Ground Source Heat Pumps 7p/kWh 23years
Air Source Heat Pumps 7.5p/kWh 18years
Solar Thermal 18p/kWh 7years

Indeed, the million dollar question! We expect it will go ahead, otherwise investment in very effective carbon-emission technologies will be dropped in favour of PV which reduces carbon emissions much less for each pound spent. We do not believe there is any political incentive to axe the RHI scheme, because the money for RHI comes from the utility companies rather than from the taxpayer, therefore the cancellation of the scheme will not affect government spending cuts.

So where does the money come for the RHI?

Obviously the money has to come from somewhere, and in this case, it is likely that it will be raised by increasing the price you pay for domestic fuels (a fossil fuel levy), although the government hasn't actually specified exactly how this will work. The only way to avoid paying more for your domestic fuel is to install an RHI-qualifying technology to your home, and reap the benefits.

How do I qualify?

You will most likely need to have MCS-approved equipment installed by an MCS-approved installer. Any installation after July 2009 should qualify. Navitron can arrange MCS-approved installations on request.

It depends on the technology, the cost of installation which in turn depends on the difficulty of the installation. A typical navitron solar thermal installation would have a payback period of 10years, although a larger system or a budget system could have a payback period as short as 5years.

Without a doubt, assuming you have not been overcharged for your installation. A Navitron approved installer should provide a competitive price, ensuring your installation earns money for you.

Can I simply open my windows and run the heatpump all the time, to make my fortune?

Thankfully, the government have anticipated that unscrupulous consumers might try this. Instead of paying the incentive on metered heat output, the payment will be based on 'deemed output'. The BRE have done extensive studies to evaluate how much heat is used by well-insulated houses, and it's likely that payment will be made on this basis. If your house is poorly insulated, you will not get paid any incentive for the extra heat required to compensate for your lack of insulation.

Will a woodstove qualify for RHI?

Probably not. Although ultra-high efficiency woodstoves may possibly be included.

How is the Deemed Output Calculated?

As usual with the UK government, the exact methodology has not been decided, and will probably not be released until just before the scheme is due to start. However, the proposal is based on the heating requirements outlined in the BRE 'standard houses' list, a summary of which is given below.

House Type No. of Bedrooms Floor Area (m2) Cavity Walls (annual kWh) Solid Walls (annual kWh)
Flat 1 42 3685 6244
  2 61 4441 7525
  3 89 5365 9089
Mid-Terrace 2 63 4699 7961
  3 79 5262 8914
End-Terrace 2 63 8248 13974
  3 79 9236 15648
Semi-Detached Bungalow 2 64 6306 10684
  3 74 6808 11534
Detached Bungalow 2 67 7786 13192
  3 78 8401 14234
  4 90 9024 15289
Semi-Detached House 2 77 8998 15245
  3 89 9674 16390
  4 102 10356 17546
Detached House 2 90 14674 24861
  3 104 15774 26724
  4 120 16944 28707

So, as an example, what would I receive in terms of RHI for a solar system based on a 30tube 47mm Navitron panel?

You would generate around 1000kWh per year from this size of panel, so at 18p/kWh, you'd expect a tax free payment of around £180 per year for 20years (£3600 in total), in addition to the fuel savings.

So, as an example, what would I receive in terms of RHI for a Ground Source Heat Pump?

Assuming you lived in a 3bedroom semi-detatched house, and you use the heatpump as your main source of heat, you'd require 9000kWh of heat a year, and at 7p/kWh RHI, you'd expect to receive a payment of £630 each year.

Are retro-fit systems utilising the existing cylinder and a Navitron retrofit coil acceptable?

They should be.

It sounds too good to be true. Maybe I'll wait a few years to let other people check it works first.

Well you could do this, however, the government are likely to reduce the RHI for new installations in a couple of years time - so it makes a lot of sense to get on-board early, in order to lock into the highest rate of RHI, which is then guaranteed to be paid to you for the duration of the scheme.

The RHI can be transferred to the new owner, and they will continue to receive the incentive. Alternatively, you may decide to come to an arrangement where you retain the RHI entitlement, by agreement with the new purchaser, who will enjoy the benefits of free or low cost renewable energy. Of course, your house will be considerably more attractive to buyers, having a better energy rating, and the attraction of annual tax-free payments for the new owners.

Are direct heating solar systems (where the water is heated by directly circulating through solar panels instead of via heat exchangers or coils) acceptable for RHI payments?

Probably not

Should I wait for the RHI to begin before getting my installation done?

As long as the installation takes place after July 2009, then you should qualify for RHI. If it is installed by a MCS-approved installer it should qualify, but it is fairly likely that non-MCS installations will also qualify up until the point at which the government publishes installation requirements and standards. You should be paid the RHI for all renewable heat generated from the 1st April 2011 onwards.

So, don't wait for the RHI to begin - get your installation done now!

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