Government has announced the laying of the new regulations for both the domestic and non-domestic Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) Schemes.

These amendments will introduce improvements that are essential to the smooth-running of both Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) schemes, said Lord Bourne, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Energy & Climate Change.

Updating industry standards

The RHI regulations reference a number of industry standards for renewable heating technologies, specifically those of the Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS). The use of MCS standards is a key part of the domestic RHI, providing assurance to consumers that both the installer and the installation meet clear standards of competence. MCS is also used within the non-domestic RHI scheme for systems smaller than 45kW.

The amendment regulations introduce updated installer standards for heat pumps, solid biomass and solar thermal. The amendments to the latter standards are fairly minor, aimed at achieving consistency of language across all MCS standards.

The heat pump installer standard has been updated to bring MCS standards in line with the European Energy-related Products (ErP) Directive. This directive will come into force across Europe for all heat pumps manufactured or imported into Europe on 26 September 2015. Both schemes’ regulations will be updated to reference these new standards.

In addition to the new MCS standards, these regulations will introduce a new methodology for calculating heat pump efficiency. The new Seasonal Coefficient of Performance (SCOP) calculator will be used by Certification Bodies to determine if a heat pump meets the requirements of the ErP Directive and to establish the Seasonal Performance Factor (SPF) required for the RHI scheme. Establishing the SPF using this calculator will be a requirement for the domestic RHI and for any MCS certified ErP compliant heat pump.

Clarification on biomass sustainability reporting requirements

The RHI regulations include requirements for the use of sustainable biomass by participants. These ensure the use of biomass incentivised by the scheme is sustainable in terms of greenhouse gas emissions savings and broader land-use impacts. These requirements were introduced through regulations in February 2015 and come into force on 5th October 2015.

The proposed amendments clarify the reporting requirements for non-domestic participants so that Combined Heat and Power (CHP) installations participating in both the Renewables Obligation (RO) and the RHI do not have to demonstrate compliance with the sustainability requirements under the RHI scheme where they are meeting these requirements under the RO. Two small amendments have also been made to correct the definition of sustainable biomethane and the land criteria for non-woody fuels.

Power for the scheme administrator to reject applications

This applies only to the non-domestic scheme as the domestic scheme already contains provisions where applications can be rejected. The amendment will provide Ofgem with an explicit power to reject applications to the non-domestic RHI where the applicant fails to provide further information to support the application within the time period specified in a request by Ofgem. The changes will deliver cost savings by reducing the operational burden of managing these applications. They will also improve financial clarity given that once applications are rejected it is no longer necessary to accrue for possible spend in relation to them.

Picture courtesy of Shutterstock.