UK DECC publishes heat strategy, provides RHI scheme update

By Erin Voegele | March 27, 2013

The U.K. Department of Energy & Climate Change has published its heat strategy and provided an update of the renewable heat incentive (RHI) scheme. According to the DECC, it has set out the next steps to ensure low-carbon heating plays an important role in the nation’s energy mix.

“If we can increase the use of low carbon heating in our homes, businesses and across our economy, we can help reduce our dependence on costly carbon intense fossil fuels,” said U.K. Energy Secretary Edward Davey. “Last year we launched the UK’s first ever heat strategy, to get us on the right pathway to decarbonisation and today we have published an update on the progress we have made so far, alongside a new set of actions specifically targeted at industrial heat, urban heat networks and heat in buildings.”

Biomass fuel is one option available to entities in the U.K. working to reduce the carbon intensity of heating applications. In its report, titled “The Future of Heating: Meeting the challenge,” the DECC notes that there is a strong potential for the use of biomass fuel in industrial heating applications. According to the report, more than 20 solid biomass boilers have already been installed in the U.K. food and drink sector with the support of the RHI. Biomass is also playing a role in supplying low-carbon heat to other segments of the U.K. economy.

The action plan released on March 26 includes several incentives and actions to increase the development of low-carbon heating applications in the U.K., including a £9 million ($13.61 million) package to help local authorities get heat network schemes up and running in municipalities across the country.  It also establishes green apprenticeships to be funded, primarily for young people in small-scale renewable technologies. In addition, the action plan includes vouchers to offset the cost of renewable heat kit installation training for heating installers.

The DECC also provided an update of the RHI, which was launched for industrial and commercial customers in November 2011. According to U.K. Energy and Climate Change Minister Greg Barker, the DECC remains committed to introducing an incentive scheme for households as well. The DECC has updated its timetable for the program’s launch and announced plans to extend the Renewable Heat Premium Payment in the meantime.

Information published by the DECC states that the U.K. will publish tariff levels for the residential RHI this summer, with the scheme expected to be up and running by spring 2014. In the meantime, the RHPP scheme will be extended through the end of March 2014. The scheme offers money off the cost of renewable heating kits, such as biomass boilers and solar thermal panels. The scheme was scheduled to end in March 2013.

As part of the announcement the DECC released a report investigating homeowner’s willingness to install more efficient heating options. The analysis addresses factors that may impact a homeowner’s willingness to install an alternative heating systems, such as costs, incentives and maintenance needs.