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The RHI is seen as a major incentive to domestic heat pump sales

UK: OFTEC has called for changes to the UK’s carbon reduction policy after latest figures show that the RHI is achieving less than 10% of its target.

According to OFTEC, latest statistics from the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) show just 11,149 new renewable installations have been completed since the RHI launched in April 2014. OFTEC calculates that around 10,800 installations will be needed every month to reach the government’s goal of 750,000 installations by 2020.

“The data clearly underlines that the RHI simply isn’t working,” says OFTEC.

“In its first year of operation, the domestic Renewable Heat Incentive scheme has failed to attract sufficient support, barely achieving in a whole year the number of installations required each month for the Department of Energy and Climate Change to meet its ambitious 2020 carbon reduction targets,” OFTEC maintains.

“The high upfront costs of installing renewable technologies, which are typically between £9k and £14k, are prohibitive for all but the wealthy few,” says OFTEC director general Jeremy Hawksley. “Even with RHI incentive payments, most people simply can’t afford to take up the scheme, even if they want to. Exacerbating the low take up of the RHI is also the complexity of both the application process and the practical issues involved in installing renewable technologies.”

OFTEC is pushing for the RHI to be replaced by a scheme that would still include renewable technology incentives but also encompass what it sees as more affordable measures such as a boiler scrappage scheme to incentivise the switch to high efficiency condensing boilers.

The RHI may also be hampered by the British public’s view of the importance of dealing with climate change. A new DECC survey is said to have shown that the proportion of people who rate climate change in the top three challenges Britain faces has fallen significantly over the past year, dropping from 22% in March 2014 to 15% in March 2015. According to OFTEC, this indicates that even though the UK economy is beginning to improve, most people still have higher priorities than installing what it describes as expensive low carbon heat measures.

Jeremy Hawksley concludes: “The DECC poll clearly underlines that the appetite for prohibitively expensive, wholly renewable heating systems just isn’t there. The majority of the public don’t see climate change as an important issue in the context of the other challenges our country faces.

“OFTEC fully supports the transition to low carbon heat and to this end has introduced new scopes of registration for solar thermal, heat pumps and solid fuel, with biomass to follow later this year.

“However, evidence strongly suggests that the government is using the wrong vehicle to encourage people to cut CO2 emissions, with the RHI in its present form making little impact. A more realistic, pragmatic solution is clearly needed if the country is to significantly reduce its carbon footprint.”