UK Government unveils long-awaited improvements to boost renewable heat

UK: Under-performing Renewable Heat Incentive to get more support

UK Energy Minister Greg Barker said the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI), the Government’s main subsidy mechanism to get homes and businesses to switch to renewable heating systems is to be broadened and improved to include more technologies and increased tariffs for non-domestic installations. The changes mean air source heat pumps, biomass combined heat and power (CHP) and deep geothermal are to be included in the non-domestic scheme. Meanwhile, commercial and industrial companies that install technologies such as solar thermal, biomass and ground source heat pumps will benefit from higher RHI tariffs.

Geothermal rigsite at the greenhouse in The Netherlands

Barker said the changes were being brought in partly because of the "low levels of uptake" for certain technologies in the RHI. Heating accounts for half of the UK's carbon emissions, yet heat generated through the scheme for 2013-14 is now projected to hit 1.2 terawatt hours (TWh) – a third of what was expected when the non-domestic RHI launched in November 2011. The Government launched a review into the scheme earlier this year following lobbying from industry and an underspend of the RHI budget in its first year.

"It is vital that we get the level of support right so that the market can invest with confidence, cost reductions can be achieved and the market can grow sustainably," Barker said in a written Ministerial statement.

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