The latest announcement by the government that bio-liquids will not be included in the proposed Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) will ensure that many off-gas homes continue to have very large CO2 footprints. According to OFTEC, the omission of bio-liquids means that homes in rural areas will have very little incentive to switch to renewable fuels.
The U-turn comes after the government accepted B30K - a blend of biofuel and kerosene - as a potential candidate for RHI support in 2010 because it has the potential to reduce carbon emissions by 28%. But now ministers say they will only give RHI support to biomass boilers, air or ground source heat pumps and solar thermal technologies.
Commenting on the latest RHI proposals, OFTEC director general Jeremy Hawksley said "We’re very disappointed at this decision and will continue to argue forcefully during the consultation period for bio-liquids to have RHI support. Whilst extensive field trials have demonstrated that B30K works fine in existing boilers, it seems odd that government policy wants to make rural oil users rip out those perfectly good systems when they could just be converted to run on bio-liquid.
“In contrast, recent trials of heat pumps revealed the limitations of the technology in many homes, such as having to install oversized radiators to cope with the lower heat temperatures. The cost of running electricity driven heat pumps is similar to the running costs of an oil boiler, so it’s difficult to see the benefit to the consumer of changing their system. We hope that ministers will consider all these points during the consultation process.”
Around 1.4 million households in the UK use oil, and OFTEC thinks that many of these will find the RHI unworkable. Not only do the RHI technologies proposed in the consultation have expensive up front capital costs, but many of them require home improvements before the property is considered eligible. Applicants will have to demonstrate that they have already installed certain measures such as loft and cavity wall insulation. In addition, the grants payable under RHI may change in future years, so there is no guarantee of payback.