The Renewable Heat Incentive: Why Solar Panels Aren’t The Only Option…

With government changes to the Feed-in Tariff affecting the amount that homeowners can earn with solar panels, now’s a good time to reassess a lesser known subsidy.

What is the Renewable Heat Incentive?

The renewable heat incentive is a government scheme which pays those who install eligible renewable heating technology. It was originally designed with large, difficult to heat buildings in mind, such as schools and hospitals, but has since been extended to homeowners. If you have an eligible piece of heating technology installed, then you could qualify for payments. A typical payment for a small terrace home with a ground source heat pump is £7,700 over seven years according to the DECC website.

Which technologies can I claim the Renewable Heat Incentive on?

Here at Complete Renewables, we have three main products which benefit from the renewable heat incentive. These are:

  1. Ground source heat pumps (typical payment £7,700)
  2. Air source heat pumps (typical payment £2,660)
  3. Solar thermal panels (typical payment £1,330)

In addition, those with biomass boilers are also eligible. These technologies are considered ‘renewable’ because they can heat your home without the use of finite fossil fuels such as coal, oil and gas.

How do these technologies work?

We are experienced fitters and installers of ground source heat pumps in Essex, so we have a deep understanding of how these technologies can improve the comfort of your home and save you money.

Ground source heat pumps work by extracting heat from the ground and then circulating that heat around your home. They work best when you are able to dig deep trenches for the pipes. You might be surprised to learn that the ground is quite warm, even in winter, so that when the heating fluids are piped through a compressor to raise the temperatures you will not need an additional heating source for your home.

Air source heat pumps work in the same way, but, as the name suggests, they extract heat from the air rather than the ground. Think of a fridge or an air conditioning unit working in reverse and you are not so far off! Air source heat pumps are cheaper and easier to install than ground source heat pumps.

As trusted local solar panel trade suppliers in Essex, we get a lot of requests for solar thermal panel installations too. While the typical PV solar panel converts sunlight into electricity, a solar thermal panel, or solar water heating system, uses the sun’s energy to heat your water supply. They work by collecting the sun’s heat and using this heat to warm up the water stored in a cylinder. Though a solar thermal panel can easily meet a whole family’s hot water needs, you can keep your boiler as a backup if you want.

How long will the Renewable Heat Incentive payments last?

The RHI is a binding agreement between you and the government. This means that if you do your part by installing renewable heating technology in your home, the government guarantees that it will pay you at the agreed rate for at least the next seven years. But the government’s current RHI subsidy is up for review in March 2016, and the rumours are that the payments will be reduced. If you are considering getting thermal solar panels or a heat pump installed, then you should act now to make sure that you qualify for the current rate of payment.

If you need a solar panel supplier in Essex, look no further than Complete Renewables. Our experienced and reputable engineers can help you understand renewable heat technologies and give you an accurate estimate of what you can expect to earn through the renewable heat incentive.

Subsidy Changes to Solar Panels: What Homeowners Need to Know

The UK government has announced that it plans to make drastic changes to the renewable energy subsidy scheme for solar panel owners

In August 2015, the government announced plans to reduce the Feed-in Tariff (FIT) by close to 90%. The FIT is a subsidy that pays homeowners and businesses for each unit of renewable energy which they generate. Currently the FIT means that the average solar panel system pays out £495 a year. When the cut is enacted in January 2016, all new homeowners who install solar panels will receive less – just £64 a year according to the Energy Saving Trust.

Why has the government made these changes?

The government’s official argument is that these cuts will lead to savings of £6 on the average homeowner’s energy bill. Amber Rudd, energy secretary, has said that the “overall cost of the scheme to the wider public has exceeded expectations, while the price of solar installations has fallen spectacularly.”

The Huffington Post agrees on that last point, telling readers that “since 2008, the global cost of installing solar panels has actually fallen by as much as 80 per cent, and contractors have made big strides in operating more cheaply and efficiently.”

The changes have been criticised by environmental groups and big businesses alike. Friends of the Earth say that the changes to the subsidy will cost the UK 20,000 jobs, and Panasonic, a normally quiet company, has urged the government to “ help (the solar industry) further develop to become fully independent from state support, with energy storage and a closer involvement of utilities. But let’s not push the bird out of the nest before it can properly fly.”

What does this mean for those who already have solar panels installed?

Those that already have solar panels installed will continue to receive payments at the original rate. The contract that a homeowner makes with the government when installing solar panels is binding, and cannot be affected by later changes to the FIT rate. This means that lucky individuals who already have solar panels installed will continue to benefit for years to come.

What does this mean for those thinking about getting solar panels?

It’s not too late to benefit from the current FIT levels. If you get solar panels installed before January 2016, then you’ll qualify for the current rate of payment for the next 20 – 25 years, which adds up to £8,750 in FIT payments alone. That’s not to mention the substantial savings you’ll make on your energy bill too.

We shouldn’t forget either the reason for solar panels in the first place. The government website states that: “Innovation in energy technologies is essential if the UK is to meet our challenging future climate change goal of an 80% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

Other renewable energy subsidy schemes have not been targeted by the government. Ground source heat pumps, air source heat pumps and solar water heating systems are covered by a different subsidy, the Renewable Heat Incentive, which still guarantees generous payments of 19.2p per kWh over the next seven years.

Act now to get solar panels installed in Essex before the 2016 deadline. Complete Renewables are the leading solar panel trade suppliers in Essex. We’re also the leading solar heating system installers and expert fitters of ground source heat pumps. For an open and honest explanation of the subsidy changes and what they will mean for you, give us a ring on 01621 827015 today.