Subject to appropriate legislation being enacted DETI will introduce a Renewable Heat Incentive for the non domestic sector. The scheme will be launched once subordinate legislation setting out eligibility standards and administration arrangements is passed in the NI Assembly (expected in Autumn 2012). All eligible installations commissioned since September 2010 will be able to avail of the incentive payments.

What is the Northern Ireland Renewable Heat Incentive?

The Northern Ireland Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) is a DETI scheme that provides financial support to non-domestic renewable heat generators and producers of biomethane.  

The following technologies will receive support:

Click here to view table.

Why is the scheme being introduced?

Objective of the scheme

The primary objective for the Northern Ireland RHI is to increase the uptake of renewable heat to 10% by 2020 (baseline position of 1.7% in 2010). The 10% target for renewable heat equates to 1.6TWh (or an additional 1.3 TWh when considering existing levels). This target was included in the Strategic Energy Framework and an interim target of 4% renewable heat by 2015 has been included in the Northern Ireland Programme for Government.  

The RHI aims to compensate investors for the additional costs of renewable heat compared to traditional fossil fuel systems.  

In most instances a rate of 12% has been set. Solar thermal receives a lower rate of return as it is a well-known technology, it’s relatively easy to install and it will not displace the same level of fossil fuel as the other technologies. In addition solar thermal hear is, more costly per unit of energy than other technologies.  

There is no support for biomass installations over 1MW size?

Biomass installations over 1MW in size will not receive a tariff under the current banding proposals. The reason for this is that, analysis has shown that it should be cost effective for these sites to switch to renewable heat by 2020 and therefore an additional incentive is not required.  

Why aren’t bioliquids covered from the start?

DETI is not supporting bioliquids from the outset of the scheme. DETI will consider supporting the bioliquids under Phase 2 of the scheme.

Air source heat pumps are not being supported

Further work is required to better understand the costs of air to water heat pumps at the commercial scale before committing long-term support for it. DETI intend to look to extend eligibility for air to water source heat perhaps in Phase 2.  

For air heat pumps we also have to overcome the practical problems of measuring the heat they generate and ensure we do not incentivise the installation of air conditioners.  

Payments

Payments will be made on a quarterly basis by the scheme’s administrator, Ofgem. Payments will be calculated by multiplying the actual metered heat output of the technology over the quarter with the designated tariff.

Metering

Yes, all technologies installed under phase 1 of the NI RHI must have an appropriate heat meter installed. (Heat meters must fall within the accuracy of class 2 of Annex MI-004 of the EU Measuring Instruments).  

Will tariffs change over time?

Once an installation is accredited under the scheme they will receive a fixed level of support which will be adjusted annually in line with inflation. However, to ensure the scheme is cost effective the tariffs will be reviewed over time and there new tariffs will be applied to anyone joining the scheme. The tariffs will be amended to reflect the Retail Price Index.  

Who is eligible to apply for the scheme?

The scheme is available to generators of heat and producers of biomethane that meet the eligibility criteria, that are based in Northern Ireland.  

At the start of the scheme only non-domestic sectors will be supported. The non-domestic segment includes businesses; public sector; charities and not-for-profit organisations; and industry.  

A non-domestic installation is a renewable heat unit that supplies heat to anything from large-scale industrial heating to small business and community heating projects. This includes small businesses, hospitals, schools etc as well as district heating schemes (e.g. one boiler serving multiple homes).  

When will the scheme close to new applications?

It is expected that the scheme will remain open to new installations until March 2020. A review of the RHI will take place in 2014/15.  

How long will the incentive payments last?

RHI support for the first phase is for the lifetime of the technology to a maximum of 20 years.

Eligible equipment commissioned on or after 1 September 2010 will be able to avail of the RHI however a suitable heat meter must be installed.  

Support for the domestic market

The Northern Ireland, Renewable Heat Premium Payment (RHPP) Scheme is a government support scheme to help domestic householders install renewable heating and hot water systems in their homes.  

Individuals will be able to apply for a voucher which will be used if their application is successful. When the qualifying technology has been installed the voucher can be exchanged for grant money.  

The voucher values for each of the technologies are listed here.  

DETI has confirmed that renewable heat installations installed in homes since 1 September 2010 will get the Renewable Heat Incentive once it comes in, provided they meet the eligibility criteria. They have also confirmed that this will include those who receive support under the NI Ireland RHPP scheme, though the term of the incentive will be reduced to factor the grant paid.