Leading name in heating Dimplex has welcomed the announcement from DECC that the Renewable Heat Premium Payment (RHPP) scheme is to be extended for a further year, with £25 million now available to support private domestic and social housing installations of renewable heating, including heat pumps and solar thermal water heating.
However, this news is tempered by the fact that the second, domestic, phase of the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI), originally scheduled to come into effect this autumn, is now not expected to be up and running before summer 2013.
Chris Davis, business development director at Dimplex Renewables, says: “Of course, it’s great news that the government has extended its RHPP support for another year; it firmly demonstrates top-level support for renewable heat, and will allow the industry to plan ahead, removing some of its recent uncertainties. However, it’s very disappointing to see that the door is still open to substantial changes to the proposed RHI scheme, which will do little to inspire consumer confidence for the future.”
The second phase of RHPPs is to retain the same simple structure; the value of each individual voucher will remain the same and payments are still focused on off-gas properties. The scheme now includes an £8m fund for a competition for community groups and £10m for a competition for social landlords, to encourage a wider range of applications.
The second phase of the RHI is due to be consulted on this September, and will include discussion of whether to add technologies such as air source heat pumps to the first, commercial, phase. Chris Davis adds: “It’s of particular concern that air source heat pumps still cannot derive support under the commercial RHI. We urge government to put interim measures in place to allow this cost effective and reliable technology onto the RHI as soon as possible.”
The extension to the RHPP is intended to bridge the gap until Phase 2 of the RHI comes into effect. However, with the RHI now expected in summer 2013 and the RHPP ending in March next year, there is a risk of a peak and trough in installations, creating problems for installers and manufacturers alike.
One stumbling block to the expected uptake of RHPP is the lack of clarity over whether eligible installations will automatically also qualify for ongoing support under the RHI, and as yet there has been no reassurance from DECC on this point. In addition, a new monitoring system has been introduced for RHPP installations, and while this will involve no cost for homeowners and will certainly provide useful performance data, there are fears this may prove a further barrier to uptake.
Chris Davis comments: “Communication of the scheme is key, as awareness levels among the general public remain low. At Dimplex we are launching a new consumer website to raise the profile of heat pumps and solar thermal, and we are also extending the Dimplex Heat Pump Premium Payment incentive, which ‘tops up’ any heat pump RHPP payment by £150.”
For further information on the update to the RHPP and RHI schemes, as well as the Dimplex Heat Pump Premium Payment, go to www.dimplexrenewables.co.uk and click on ‘Grants and Funding’.