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Renewable Heating Incentives; The Facts

The renewable heat incentive, also known as RHI, is a government scheme which has been designed to encourage the installation of low-carbon heating systems. Originally a labour policy, the RHI's full details were instead published by the coalition government in March 2011.

So why did the government introduce this incentive?
The UK has a set number of targets for reducing its overall contribution to global warming, which includes a commitment to reduce carbon emissions by 80% by 2050, so the heating incentive will persuade more UK residents to complete this goal.

Burning fossil fuels to provide heating and hot water in buildings accounts for the largest slice of current emissions in UK; therefore the RHI is the government's strategy to kick-start a move towards renewable energy sources and producing fewer emissions.

Does the RHI, relate to the feed-in-tariffs?
The UK, like many countries, has a feed-in tariff which provides financial payments to residents for each unit of electricity they produce using small-scale renewable technologies, which could be solar panels and wind turbines. The RHI finances an identical set of incentives for such heating systems, yet it is the first policy of its kind anywhere in the world.

When can we expect the RHI?
The large-scale heating systems suitable for commercial buildings are being focused on primarily, as they would typically churn out more carbon emissions then residential homes. Unfortunately it is not yet made clear exactly when the first payments are likely to be made, or even how they will be processed, however the government has promised that all renewable heating systems installed since July 2009 will be eligible for such future payments.

So how does the RHI affect home owners?
A domestic version of the RHI has been introduced though it will not launched in full until October 2012, which will coincide with the green deal- a government policy supporting energy efficiency in homes.

For now though, £15million has been budgeted for grants, known as renewable heat premium payments, which will fund the initial cost of installing a domestic-scale renewable heating system. In May 2011, the government is aiming to announce the details of such grants, and make them available as from July 2011.

These grants vary depending on the heating system installed, for instance the solar thermal will earn you £300, whereas air-source heat pumps can warrant up to £850, the most expensive grant is for the ground-source heat pumps, which merits £1250.

How will the government know how much to pay?
The renewable heating incentive will use meters to track the amount heat being produced by the larger heating systems. The completed detailed are yet to be confirmed for household systems, but it appears likely that payments will be based on expected use in comparison to metering.

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