Record breaking renewables

This week renewable energy electricity generation in the UK hit an all time high, while in the first five months of the year the domestic Renewable Heat Incentive scheme experienced a power surge of its own - with a rush of applications ahead of imminent scheme reforms.

There was some exciting news yesterday that may have passed people by in the media frenzy of the final day of election campaigning.

National Grid reported that at lunchtime on Wednesday, power from wind, solar, hydro and biomass burning supplied 50.7% of UK energy.

The sunny and windy conditions on 8th June were perfect for wind and solar generation and resulted in renewables outstripping coal and gas for the first time.

Domestic renewables are on the rise too. Figures up to the 4th June show 56,143 new and legacy installations accredited under the domestic Renewable Heat Incentive scheme since its launch in 2014. That’s a lot of households now being paid for heating their home and hot water.

49% of those installations are air source heat pumps. Biomass accounts for 22% and ground source heat pumps and solar thermal panels each account for 15% of accreditations.

There has been something of surge in installations since the beginning of the year – particularly of heat pumps – ahead of RHI scheme reforms which were due to be introduced in the spring, but have been delayed in their passage through Parliament first by various amendments and most recently by the calling of the General Election.

The biggest change to the scheme will be the introduction of heat demand caps for heat pumps and biomass boilers, which limit the number of kW hours the homeowner can be paid for. Until now, RHI payments have been calculated based on the deemed heat demand figure taken from the property’s EPC, and with no limit in place, people in the largest and perhaps least well insulated properties were taking what some consider an unfair share of the RHI budget.

The new caps will be as follows:

Technology  Annual heat demand limit (kWh) 
 Air source heat pumps  20,000
 Biomass  25,000
 Ground source heat pumps  30,000


While that’s bad news for some, there is more positive news, with uplifted tariffs being introduced for these three technologies. The solar thermal tariff will remain unchanged at 20.06p/kWh.

 Technology Current tariff (p/kWh)  Uplifted tariff (p/kWh) 
 Biomass  4.28  6.54
 Air source heat pump  7.63  10.18
 Ground source heat pump  19.64  19.86
 Solar thermal panels  20.06  20.06


The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy remains committed to the revised RHI regulations and aims to lay them before Parliament as soon after the General Election as possible, once the new Minister gives his or her approval. 

There may still be further delays if it’s not clear who is in charge immediately following the election, but we expect them to be passed into Law in the next month or so.

It’s hoped that by capping the heat demand this will allow the finite RHI budget to benefit more UK homeowners.

In these post-election, pre-Brexit uncertain economic times, anything which reduces the financial burden on households is to be welcomed, and getting paid for doing something you would be doing anyway - heating your home – is a pretty appealing prospect.

Here at Yorkshire Heat Pumps, we've been busy with a number of  time-critical installations, where homeowners were keen to beat the cap, but we're happy to have a healthy pipeline of projects where the cap is immaterial, in properties with heat demands below the respective limits and where renewables just make economic sense and represent a responsible choice in green terms.

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