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Renewable heat payments doubled for householders

Value of vouchers raised for four key technologies as Government looks to link renewable heat scheme with Green Deal.

Payments to householders who switch to selected greener heating systems are to double, the Government announced yesterday.

Vouchers available under the Renewable Heat Premium Payment (RHPP) scheme have been increased to £2,300 for ground source heat pumps, £2,000 for biomass boilers, £1,300 for air source heat pumps and £600 for solar thermal systems.

The increase in the value of the grants is designed to cover the cost of a Green Deal energy efficiency assessment, which householders will have to undergo before they can redeem the vouchers through the Energy Saving Trust.

Nearly a fifth of the UK’s housing stock is not connected to the gas grid and householders in these rural areas are often reliant on heating oil, which is expensive and has high carbon emissions.

Energy and Climate Change Minister Greg Barker said the increased grants were designed to “kick start this exciting new market for consumer renewable heat technologies.”

“This time-limited, big increase in the value of vouchers for hardworking people who want to do something positive to install money-saving green heating in their homes should be a real boost for this growing green sector,” he added.

The RHPP scheme is designed to support the development of the renewable heat sector ahead of the launch of the domestic Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) scheme, which is designed to offer regular incentive payments to households installing eligible technologies. However, the scheme has faced a series of delays and is now not scheduled to launch until March 2014.

Before yesterday, payments through the RHPP scheme were limited to £1,250 for ground source heat pumps, £950 for biomass boilers, £850 for air source heat pumps and £300 for solar thermal systems.

The increase in grants was welcomed by industry bodies the Renewable Energy Association (REA) and Solar Trade Association (STA), which were among the signatories of a letter to Barker calling for the RHPP payments to be doubled.
Stuart Elmes, chair of the STA’s Solar Thermal Working Group, said confirmation of raised payments was “fantastic news for solar heating”.

“The industry can really get behind the improved voucher levels and vigorously drive towards a spring 2014 launch of the domestic RHI with renewed enthusiasm,” he added.

“This announcement is, at last, a tangible demonstration of the Government’s oft-proclaimed commitment to domestic renewable heat technologies.”
His comments were echoed by Dave Sowden of the Micropower Council, who hailed the new voucher levels as “a welcome boost for an industry which has, in some sectors, seen dramatic drops in sales”.

“Today’s announcement provides a welcome signal that the government will continue to support householders wishing to install renewable heating systems,” he added. “We encourage government strongly to build on this by confirming it will now press ahead with ambitious plans to move to half-way to zero carbon homes in new build, and to publish its proposed details for the long term incentive scheme as soon as possible.”

However, Simon Lomax, managing director of heat pump company Kensa, added that householders “will only really be able to invest with confidence” once government has made clear how these grants will affect future entitlement to RHI.

Further RHI details are expected to be published this summer, which means “there may still be some short-term reluctance to specify heat pumps,” Lomax said.

Source: BusinessGreen staff
Date: 21 May 2013

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