Boiler upgrade to replace RHI flop?

Jeremy Hawksley, director general, OFTEC
Jeremy Hawksley, director general, OFTEC
The government’s domestic Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) scheme is a costly and unrealistic solution to lowering carbon emissions which is failing to attract consumer support, says OFTEC.

Targets set out in the impact assessment produced by the Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) state that the RHI will support around 750,000 renewable heat installations by 2020 – that is approximately 10,800 new accreditations per month.

Figures released by OFGEM in July showed that since the RHI was launched in April, 5,158 renewable heating systems have been accredited under the scheme. At the current rate of take up, DECC’s goal of 10,800 new accreditations per month looks unrealistic.

Jeremy Hawksley, director general at OFTEC, comments: “Even before the RHI was launched, we voiced concerns that the scheme would suffer the same fate as the Green Deal. `Whilst we recognise that the initial take up of any such scheme is often low and that momentum may build, there is going to have to be an enormous surge of interest in the RHI to meet government targets. We are doubtful that with such a costly and complex scheme this will happen.”

According to OFTEC a simple, all-inclusive boiler scrappage scheme would go much further than the RHI in helping the government achieve its ambitious carbon reduction target of 80% less emissions by 2050.

Although the government’s new Green Deal Home Improvement Fund helps households on gas to upgrade their old boilers, it does not apply to oil-fired boilers, discriminating against some 850,000 homes in rural England and Wales. The equivalent Scottish scheme includes oil boilers.

Jeremy Hawksley continues: “What the country needs is a simple, accessible scheme which consumers can really get to grips with. We already know that a boiler scrappage scheme works as a similar initiative in 2010 saw 120,000 old, inefficient boilers replaced. It makes no sense for the government to exclude English and Welsh homes on oil from upgrading their boilers through the Green Deal Home Improvement Fund, particularly as in Scotland oil homes can access these grants.”

He concludes: “The government needs to think again and instead of pushing expensive renewables which will only appeal to the wealthy few, it should channel its resources into realistic boiler up-grade schemes that will encourage millions of home owners  to take simple yet effective energy efficiency measures which will collectively make a greater contribution to CO2 reduction targets.”