Government figures have shown the majority of firms using the non-domestic Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) would not have installed renewable heat technology without the support scheme.
According to data published by the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC), 63% of applicants would not have installed systems technologies such as biomass boilers and wind, ground and air source heat pumps if not for the RHI.
In addition, the success of the scheme in promoting the use of renewable heat systems has been buoyed by the fact that 91% of the systems replaced under the scheme have been non-renewable systems.
The results of the government survey, which was conducted throughout 2014, also show a high level of approval for renewable heat technologies, with 87% of applicants reporting they were satisfied with the performance of their systems.
Despite a large number (74%) reporting financial concerns when signing up to the scheme, the majority (61%) were still able to use their own finances to purchase the renewable heat installation. With installation costs expected to fall as the RHI continues, the survey suggests renewable heat technologies are proving to be an affordable solution for a range of businesses.
This is particularly true of small companies, with firms employing ten or fewer workers making up 82% of applicants to the non-domestic RHI.
The results of the survey will put the RHI scheme in a good position as it heads into a period of change following last year’s Spending Review. George Osborne announced spending for the RHI would increase to £1.15 billion in 2021 at the same time that the scheme is reformed to deliver £700 million in savings over the same period. It remains unclear how these savings will be made, with a consultation on the RHI expected soon.
Energy minister Lord Bourne said: “Reforming how we use energy for heating is critical to achieving secure, affordable and clean energy for families and businesses across the country. That is why the government will be pushing a more cost effective, targeted RHI scheme for the next five years.”
Frank Aaskov, policy analyst for the Renewable Energy Association, says DECC’s findings will should place the scheme in good stead during the reform process.
“The reports show that consumers and businesses are in general very satisfied with their renewable heat installations, and 88% would recommend their renewable heat technology to others. There is always room for improvement, both in the RHI and within the sector, but it is clear that biomass and wood heating is a modern and mature technology that has huge potential for growth,” he said.
“We hope this is reflected in the Government’s reform of the RHI, when this consultation is launched later this quarter.”