Renewable Heat Incentive consultation - solar water heating guide

On 20th September DECC released a 111 page consultation on the long delayed Renewable Heat Incentive scheme, which contains major changes to the scheme as it was originally proposed 3 years ago.

We now present an overview of the key elements of the RHI scheme as it is now proposed, in relation to Solar Water Heating only.

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RHI for Solar Water Heating systems proposals


Legacy systems (systems installed since 15th July 2009)

In line with the previous plans, all MCS certified solar water heating systems installed since 15th July 2009 should still be eligible for RHI payments once the scheme starts to operate.


How will payments be calculated?

Payments should be based on the original SAP estimates of output from the systems, with no requirement to meter the actual heat output.


What rate will solar water heating payments be made at?

17.3p per kWh of heat generated is the proposed rate to be paid for solar water heating systems.


How long will the payments run for?

7 years is the proposed payment period for solar water heating under RHI.

It's unclear if this is from the start date of the RHI scheme, or the installation date for legacy systems.


RHI start date

The start date for the RHI scheme is now scheduled for summer 2013, though this is an aspiration rather than a commitment.


EPC / Energy Efficiency requirements

There is a proposal within the consultation that RHI payments should be contingent upon an EPC being produced, and all 'Green Tick' items having been carried out.

These 'Green Tick' items are items related to the overall thermal efficiency of the house, such as loft insulation and cavity wall insulation.

There will be exemptions from having to carry out these measures if they are not technically possible, with proof likely to be a letter stating this from a certified installer of that technology.

It's not clear in the document whether these 'Green Tick' items will need to have been carried out for RHI payments to solar water heating systems or not. As the Green Tick items have no direct bearing on the performance of the solar water heating systems, there's a chance that they might not apply, but given the situation with the EPC requirements for solar PV it's likely DECC will apply this requirement across the board.

We are currently seeking clarification on this point.


Is Solar Water Heating allowed to be combined with other heat sources?

In short, yes. Solar water heating systems will be allowed to be used in conjunction with either fossil fuel, or other renewable heat systems.

There is a proposal for heat pumps, and biomass boilers that all other heating systems should be removed, but this doesn't apply to solar water heating, which the consultation specifically acknowledges as complementing these other technologies.


Will RHI apply to new build?

The consultation proposes that RHI will only apply to retrofit schemes, not new build, however this is one area that is being consulted upon, so it may change.



There are proposals for degression (reductions in the RHI tariff rate) to apply once set targets for the number of installations of each technology are reached, with a suggestion of 5% degression bands.

This is only a proposal though, and the final scheme may differ from this.


How will payment be made, how do I apply?

The RHI scheme is to be adminstered by Ofgem. It's not currently clear exactly how this would work, and the application process is not currently open for applications, and won't be until summer 2013 at the earliest.



Please note that this guide relates to a consulation, and there could still be further changes as a result of the consultation. However, we believe that the situation for solar water heating is relatively settled, and it's mostly heat pumps and biomass boilers where there's still the potential for significant changes.


The full consulation document can be found at the following link.

There are over 80 questions in the consultation, please don't be put off by this as you don't have to answer them all, and can even just respond to a single question if you feel particularly strongly about any particular proposal.



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