UK government issues response to consultation on RHI amendments

By Erin Voegele | January 30, 2018

On Jan. 29, the U.K. Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy released its response to a consultation on proposed amendments to the Non-domestic Renewable Heat Incentive, confirming its intention to restrict certain types of fuel drying that are supported under the RHI.

According to the BEIS, it does not intend to remove all drying practices as eligible heat uses. However, the government said it will remove wood-fuel drying as an eligible heat use, other than where the renewable heat installation is replacing a fossil fuel heat source. A transition period will allow wood-fuel drying plants that are in development to be accredited. In addition, the government is removing the drying, cleaning or processes of waste as an eligible use and is further tightening the RHI rules in relation to the eligibility of swimming pools and single non-domestic properties.

The consultation was open from Sept. 5 through Oct. 31. The BEIS said it received 115 responses to its proposals related to eligible heat use reforms. The BEIS also noted that decisions on other proposals made in the consultation will be published later this year.

The U.K. Renewable Energy Association has noted that the amendments will benefit many responsible companies, but cautioned that there is a need to ensure that innovative companies will not be punished.

“We welcome the principle of limiting eligible heat uses to ensure the scheme is used responsibly,” said Frank Aaskov, policy analyst at the REA and Wood Heat Association. “The central goal of the RHI is to drive down emissions from the heating sector in a cost effective manner, and we must not be lost sight of that. The RHI is a complex scheme and the new rules will need to be tested and be open to change to ensure innovative companies aren’t being punished.

“The U.K. has robust and growing biogas and energy-from-waste sectors which include companies making biofuels from coffee grounds, green gas from food waste and transforming black-bag waste and waste packaging removed from food waste into electricity, heat and biofuels for transport,” said Kiara Zennaro, head of biogas at the REA. “Many of these processes require the waste to be dried and prepared but we are concerned that this heat use is no longer eligible.”

“While there are positive aspects of this consultation this change could be a backwards step for the circular and bio-economies,” Zennaro continued.

Additional information is available on the BEIS website