Government's RHI funding decision slammed by renewable heat specialists

Date submitted: 
12 Jun 2012

Greg Barker MP, Minister of State at the Department of Energy and Climate Change, has issued a written statement on the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) and the Government’s plans to manage the RHI budget in this current spending review period (2012/13 to 2014/15).

The Government will limit RHI payments to £70m during this financial year. It will also suspend the subsidy for the rest of the financial year if it forecasts the budget will be exceeded. This will be triggered if 97 percent of the budget is used up. 

Renewable heat installers like Ardenham Energy will be given just a week's notice of the suspension.  Neil Lawson, head of renewable heat at Ardenham Energy, is understandable scathing of the news. He says:

“No business can operate sustainably under these conditions. These proposals will stop the development of a specialist renewable heating sector in its tracks. The only way that businesses will be able to survive a peremptory suspension of the RHI will be to ensure that RHI-based work is only ever a minority of their work stream.

“At the moment there has been reduced take up of RHI in the commercial property sector because applying for the funding was so difficult. That now seems to be easing and many more projects are coming through. But there is also a potential backlog of domestic RHI qualifying installations to July 2009, so we can expect an unrealistic peak in applications the day the domestic scheme launches. As soon as that scheme is launched the floodgates will open.

“Consequently, I can’t see how customer expectations can be managed. It will be like playing Russian roulette. As each month passes with a dull click, the chances of the next month reaching the threshold increases. And when the upper limit is hit and DECC’s  bullet blows the plans apart, what happens to the hapless installer who told the client that they would benefit from the RHI? What happens to the client? Do they decide not to turn their heating on until the next financial year and commission it then?

“These are artificial mechanisms conceptualised in an ivory tower. The Treasury is seeking to control a budget at all costs and DECC is responding with a tsunami of destruction throughout the RHI industry.

“It’s time to go back to the drawing board and start from the basics with a simple scheme. The current plans are overly complicated and unworkable. 

“We urge DECC to keep on talking to the industry and to fight the imposition of these arbitrary budget caps.  The introduction of the RHI was a world first. The eyes of the world are fixed on UK plc to see if we can create a thriving green economy, so we all need to make the RHI a success, not only for business and the benefit of all building owners, but for the original goal of carbon reduction.”

In the meantime, building owners looking for RHI funding are urged to contact Ardenham Energy as soon as possible in order to be sure to ensure project completion before the funding is suspended.