Farmers and landowners could soon benefit from government support for domestic renewable heating schemes under the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI).

The Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) published a consultation last week that proposes a new RHI scheme for domestic households from summer 2013 onwards.

At present, RHI support payments are only available for the non-domestic sector, meaning farmers have only been able to receive support for heating schemes used for commercial reasons and have been unable to receive support for solely heating a farmhouse through renewables technology.

Support is currently available for renewable heat for householders under the Renewable Heat Premium Payment scheme. However, this will only run until March 2013.

The new domestic RHI scheme, to be managed by Ofgem, is aimed at any householder looking to replace their current heating system with renewable heating kit such as biomass boilers, heat pumps and solar thermal, and those who have had such technology in place since 15 July 2009.

Head of the renewables team at the Scottish Agricultural College, Jim Campbell, said a domestic RHI scheme would open up the door to support for farmhouse heating projects.

The Renewable Energy Association (REA) also welcomed the consultation and said rural communities in particular stood to benefit from the RHI as it would widen the range of affordable heating options for homes not on the gas grid and those hard hit by fuel poverty.

“Renewable heat technologies are often very cost-effective and have a major role to play in reducing our carbon emissions, improving our energy security and revitalising our economy,” said REA head of policy Paul Thompson.

Key proposals

  • Indicative tariff ranges for air-source heat pumps (6.9-11.5p/kWh), biomass boilers (5.2-8.7p/kWh), ground source heat pumps (12.5-17.3p/kWh) and microgeneration certification scheme-certified solar thermal technologies (17.3p/kWh).

  • Payments to householders over a seven-year period for each kWh of heat produced over the expected lifetime of the technology, based on deemed heat usage.

  • Budget management system similar to one introduced for the Feed-in Tariffs scheme.

  • Minimum energy efficiency requirements based on the Green Deal assessments.

A second consultation – focusing on air to water heat pumps and energy from waste – was also launched by the DECC and closes on 18 October 2012.

Key proposals include: inclusion of heating-only air-to-air heat pumps; biomass direct air heaters and air to water pumps; introduction of a bioliquid combined head and power (CHP) tariff and an increased range of waste feedstocks eligible for support.

Gemma Mackenzie on G+