UK Government opens consultation for RHI reforms

The UK government has launched a consultation on the restriction of new biomass installations in urban areas under the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI).

Introduced in November 2011, the RHI is a scheme put in place to incentivise and encourage the generation of heat from renewable energy sources by subsidising non-domestic users for every kilowatt an hour of renewable energy that they use.

In an official release however, the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) detailed its plans to exempt biomass installations from RHI support if they are in urban areas.

BEIS claims that the key factor behind this decision are its ambitious goals to reduce national emissions, referring to targets set for 2020 and 2030 as part of the government’s Clean Air Strategy published in May of this year.

The World Heat Association responded to the announcement of BEIS’ plans, ‘fully support[ing]’ the government’s plans to address national pollution, but arguing that an ambiguous ban instead of focusing on standards is ‘counterproductive’.

Instead, the WHA stated that the government’s priority should be placed on transport.

“The latest proposed reforms to the RHI risks being a knee-jerk policy reaction to the air quality crisis. The industry has lobbied for many years for actions to ensure the very safest levels of emissions from biomass boilers in all parts of the UK, not just urban areas.  Modern biomass boilers, fitted with high-performance filters, achieve particulate emissions equivalent to that of conventional fossil fuelled boilers, while making significant carbon savings,” said Neil Harrison, chair of the WHA.

“Urban air quality can be best minimised by addressing the much more significant emissions coming from transport and properly enforcing controls provided by Smoke Control Zones and other existing legislation.”

If you’d like to respond to the consultation, please find details here.

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