UK government implements changes to non-domestic RHI

By Erin Voegele | May 30, 2014

The U.K. government has announced changes to the country’s non-domestic renewable heat incentive (RHI). According to information published by the U.K. Office of Gas and Electricity Markets (Ofgem), the changes introduce new technologies to be covered by the scheme and new tariffs that may affect existing participants. The changes include increased support for large biomass projects and new support for biomass combined-heat-and-power (CHP), on-site combustion of biogas from anaerobic digestion at scales above 200 kW, and waste-based heating projects.

A factsheet published by Ofgem states that the biogas capacity limits have been extended beyond 200 kWh, and energy from waste will be extended to include industrial and commercial waste. The document states that “a number of amendments will be introduced which will affect biomethane producers applying to the scheme on or after the amendment regulations are introduced.” This includes a provision to apply for additional capacity and a provision to apply for preliminary registration power for Ofgem to inspect equipment producing biomethane or biogas from which the biomethane will be produced before registration. 

The factsheet also indicates that legislation is being developed to introduce sustainability requirements for the RHI scheme. Those changes are expected to apply starting this fall for both existing participants and new applicants. 

Ofgem also outlined expected changes to RHI tariffs. Within the next few months, the non-domestic RHI tariff for large biomass operations with a capacity of 1 MW of thermal energy or higher is expected to increase from 1 pence per kilowatt hour (p/kWh) to 2 p/kWh. The tariff for new solid biomass combined-heat-and-power (CHP) systems is set to be 4.1 p/kWh for installations. The tariff for medium biogas installations of 200 kWth to 600 kWth is expected to be 5.9 p/kWh, with the tariff for large biogas installations above 600 kWth in size set at 2.2 p/kWh.

The U.K.-based Renewable Energy Association has weighed in on the government’s announcement. “The RHI is now a truly world-leading renewable energy policy. Almost all renewable heat applications are now supported under the scheme, offering businesses greater choice than ever before on how to sustainably meet their heating needs. Local authorities and housing associations can also benefit from the expanded support for technologies that can feed district heating schemes, such as biomass, geothermal and energy from waste,” said REA Chief Executive Nina Skorupska.