It’s been a long wait but finally, in March, government officials and ministers confirmed that the domestic RHI will definitely launch this year but they were still keeping the actual launch date to themselves choosing to simply state ‘before Easter’. The announcements were met with retorts of ‘which Easter?’ a demonstration of how long and how uncertain industry has felt about the scheme.
But enough has already been said about the long wait, at last we can be confident it is finally launching. So here is a brief reminder about the purpose of the scheme and particularly the requirements for those in the biomass sector.
The domestic RHI provides payments over seven years to support the installation of renewable heating systems in domestic properties, including for landlords and social housing as well as owner-occupiers. The tariffs are available for Air Source Heat Pumps (7.3p/kWh), biomass boilers (12.2p/kWh), Ground Source Heat Pumps (18.8p/kWh) and Solar Thermal (19.2p/kWh). The value of the payments will depend on estimated heat demand as well as other figures such as system efficiency.
To ensure eligibility for RHI payments participants must meet certain scheme requirements. For example, a Green Deal Assessment must be carried out and loft and cavity wall installation installed if recommended by the report. In addition, the heating system must be MCS certified and installed by an MCS certified installer. For biomass, there are also requirements related to sustainability and air quality.
To meet air quality standards the biomass boiler must have either an RHI emission certificate or an environmental permit. This requirement is to ensure that emissions from biomass boilers do not exceed a maximum level of particulate matter; the maximum permitted emissions are 30 grams per gigajoule (g/GJ) net heat input for PM and 150 g/GJ for NOx (expressed as NO2). These standards already apply to the non-domestic RHI scheme and will also be in force from the start of the domestic RHI scheme. Suppliers are urged to make sure they have a valid emissions certificate for the RHI as well as MCS approval.
In addition, biomass sustainability requirements have been introduced and are due to become compulsory from autumn 2014. The requirements are to ensure biomass remains sustainable and includes demonstrating a 60% Green House Gas (GHG) saving against the EU fossil heat average, assuming boiler efficiency of 70% and certain land criteria. Compliance for domestic consumers can be demonstrated by using a supplier from the Biomass Suppliers list. This list is being administered by Gemserv supported by Woodsure and Hetas and is currently under development. As soon as the list is available it is recommended that consumers start to use fuel from an approved supplier.
These sustainability standards are commendable and as demonstrated in the paper on the biomass supply chain, recently produced by CPL, Verdo, Land Energy and Hoval the government standards are already being exceeded. What is important now is that as the supply chain develops that standards continue to be monitored and maintained to ensure a sustainable future for biomass.
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