DECC may raise RHI payments for ground source heat pumps

RHI boost for ground-source heat pumps could come in the spring.

The rate of the Renewable Heat Incentive for ground-source heat pumps could al least double to 9.4 p/kWh if the Department for Energy & Climate Change accepts a case put forward by the Ground Source Heat Pump Association. A review of tariffs is being considered by the DECC for new installations in the spring. If the tariffs are increased, installations accredited from 21 January will benefit.

The current rates are 4.7 p/kWh for installation less than 100 kW and 3.4 p/kWh for larger installations.

In a meeting with Greg Barker, Minister of State for Energy & Climate Change, a team of GSHPA council members raised the issue of why only 2% of RHI payments had been made to owners of heat-pump installations, compared with 98% for biomass systems.

A statement from DECC comments, ‘Emerging evidence suggests there may be difference between actual costs and load factors of installations, and the original assumptions used to calculate the current tariffs. After the work has finished, a summary of the findings will be published.’

DECC is particularly keen to ensure that where technologies such as ground-source heat pumps have had low take up to date that any updated tariff is set to provide the right incentive, balancing the need for value for money with the need for an ambitious level of deployment.

Brian Kennelly, chairman of the GSHPA, believes that a higher tariff would bring much-needed certainty to the market and encourage increased uptake of the technology.

Chris Davidson, development director of GI Energy is similarly enthusiastic: ‘If the minister gets the tariff right, then 2013 could really be the year when ground-source heat-pump systems assume the leading role they can certainly play in cutting the UK’s carbon emissions.’

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