U.K. opens Renewable Heat Incentive for non-residential solar heating systems

On November 28th, 2011 the U.K. government opened its Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) program, providing incentives of up to GBP 0.085 / kWh (USD 0.13 / kWh) for heat generated from solar thermal equipment smaller than 200 kW-thermal.

The government has made USD 1.33 billion available for the program, and will provide support for commercial, industrial, public, non-profit and community generators of heat. The Department of Energy and Climate Change in the U.K. (DECC) plans to open a second phase to provide incentives for residential installations, and states that it will confirm the timing of that phase in 2012.

“The RHI will usher in a new era in clean green heat technology,” stated U.K. Energy and Climate Change Secretary Greg Barker. “It’s a world first and has the potential to put the U.K. at the forefront of a vibrant new green technology sector.”

“Renewable heat will be a big win for our economy – it will support thousands of green jobs, reduce our dependency on imported fossil fuels, reduce our carbon emissions and help us meet our renewable target.”

RHI details criticized by STA

The Solar Trade Association (STA, Milton Keynes, U.K.) criticized the program when it was announced in March 2011, complaining about the slow pace of program launch for the domestic solar thermal sector, which makes up the vast majority of solar thermal installations.

Disappointment with details of this program fits into a pattern of conflict between the U.K.’s ruling Conservative Party and the nation’s solar industry and its supporters. The Conservative-run DECC is currently preparing to slash feed-in tariff rates for solar photovoltaics (PV), amid heavy criticism from the opposition Labour party.

Payments to be made quarterly

Equipment installed after July 15th, 2009 will be eligible for inclusion in the program, and payments will be made on a quarterly basis for the next 20 years.

Subsidies of varying levels will also be paid for other forms of heating equipment based on renewable energy technologies, including biomass boilers and heat pumps.

The DECC had earlier withdrawn the program in September 2010, citing issues of the program’s compatibility with EU state aid rules, which it says has since been resolved.

The U.K. Department of Energy and Climate Change states that the RHI will be an important part of meeting the U.K.’s 2020 renewables target, which has a goal of reducing carbon emissions by 43 million tons by 2020.

Source: solarserver.com/DECC

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