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The Renewable Energy Centre

Apr 08 2013

The Renewable Heat Incentive is delayed again

Biomass StoveSo, the wonderful ‘new world’ of the Green Deal is still in the planning stages – well it is when it comes to the Renewable Heat Incentive Scheme (RHI) for domestic property owners. Another year of waiting has flown by, with the Photovoltaic Feed in Tariff (PV FIT) in full swing, and the promise of the RHI shortly to follow. It’s been nearly 2 years since the RHI was due to be launched for the domestic market and now we hear of another delay to spring 2014.

To me there seems to have been a gross miscalculation as to how quickly the RHI could be set up and implemented. Consultation after consultation seems to have continued without any decisions made or tariffs set. How hard can it be, when the FIT for PV was already in place and a good benchmark from which to follow?

I realise that there are more technologies to consider with the RHI but there is so much data available now as to what outputs can be achieved in the domestic market  and therefore what tariffs could be applied. Much of the renewable energy industry for the domestic market has been holding its breath waiting for the onslaught of new business due to the Renewable Heat Incentive… it simply hasn’t come.

In order to help keep these markets afloat the existing incentive scheme has been extended but at what cost? The Renewable Heat Premium Payment Scheme (RHPPS)  only helps with the cost of the technology – not the energy it produces.

In my view, these delays only serve to highlight the Government’s lack of commitment to schemes for individual householders to save energy and produce less CO2 emissions through the use of low carbon technology.

What can be done? Not a lot, I fear, but simply more waiting around for tariffs to be decided. What is clear is that the scheme, if it does finally launch in Spring 2014, will only have been running for a year before it’s time for a general election, when polices and legislation may completely change all over again.

In an age where renewable energy is becoming so much more important and a necessity rather than a ‘nice to have’ these delays are simply not acceptable nor are they helpful in moving the UK towards a low carbon existence or its EU commitments and targets.


Feb 26 2013

The two sides to our listed buildings planning system

Pushme-pulleyu - credit BBCWhen Hugh Lofting created the Pushmi-Pullyu in The Story of Dr. Dolittle, he accidentally hit upon the perfect model for certain aspects of our listed buildings planning system.

As anyone who has a listed property, or is in a conservation zone, AONB or National Park will testify, the listed buildings planning system and regulations can be puzzling and highly frustrating at times.

Even though we are being encouraged to insulate to save energy, some planning authorities still insist that single-glazed sash or leaded windows cannot be replaced by double glazing. This is despite the fact that modern double-glazed units can look the same, are aesthetically pleasing and many times more energy efficient. Gone are the days when double glazing had to be the ugly white PVC units of twenty years ago. With so many UK houses falling under the listed buildings planning system, these issues will continue to cause many homeowners and planning officers much time and trouble.

I have always thought that churches must be a perfect candidate for solar heating or photovoltaics. Because they are always built East-West every one has a south-facing roof, they are generally tall enough so that they are not shaded by trees or buildings, and they always seem to be freezing cold in winter. In addition many churches struggle to fund the maintenance of their buildings and so this would be an easy solution and a cost effective measure ongoing to keep the water hot or the lights on.

But the Pushmi-Pullyu’s of some planning authorities object on aesthetic grounds even when the panels cannot be seen from the ground!

So is there a way forward for these planning conundrums? Looking at the current state of play, it is unlikely, and so just like the Pushme Pulleyu’s – local planning departments may continue to have two heads trying to move in opposite directions!


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