The Green Room: What happens when you put two energy experts in a room and ask them to explain the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI)? This week’s episode features one of the government’s biggest domestic subsidies for eco-friendly heating. That means biomass boilers, heat pumps, and solar thermal. James and Nick take you through how to apply, what the requirements are, and delve into the nitty-gritty of how much you can expect to be paid.
WHAT IS THE RENEWABLE HEAT INCENTIVE (RHI)?
The Renewable Heat Incentive, or RHI, was announced in 2008 as part of the Energy Act, although it didn’t come in to effect until 2014. It’s a government subsidy designed to reward smallscale renewable heating systems across England, Scotland and Wales. There’s a commercial arm to it as well, but we’re drilling down on the Domestic RHI in this article.
Biomass boilers use essentially the same as the gas boilers that you’d find in 80% of UK homes, except that fuel source is provided by small, sustainably sourced wood pellets.
AIR-TO-WATER HEAT PUMPS
Air source heat pumps use the ambient heat found in the air outside your house and compress it using electricity. This compression causes the extracted warmth to heat up further and then be released into your home. Only air-to-water heat pumps are eligible for the RHI.
GROUND SOURCE HEAT PUMPS
Similar to air source heat pumps, but a ground source heat pump pulls the heat from the ground, making it a whole lot more efficient. Ground source heat pumps require extensive pipework and a lot of open land, however once installed they are one of our favourite ways to heat your home.
WATER SOURCE HEAT PUMPS
Though you don’t see it written about all the often, water source heat pumps are indeed part of the RHI scheme. In all the paperwork they fall under the umbrella of a ground source heat pump, but this is very poorly explained so it’s often missed.
Also known as solar heating, solar thermal harnesses the energy provided by the sun to provide thermal energy to heat water. Only flat plate and evacuated tube solar panel systems are eligible.
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