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NatCen publishes independent evaluation of Renewable Heat Incentive

11 February 2016

New research undertaken by NatCen Social Research, Eunomia, Centre for Sustainable Energy and Frontier Economics provides new evidence on the delivery and contribution of the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI).

New research undertaken by NatCen Social Research, Eunomia, Centre for Sustainable Energy and Frontier Economics provides new evidence on the delivery and contribution of the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI).

The independent evaluation of the RHI, commissioned by the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC), includes NatCen’s work with owner-occupiers exploring their motivations for, and experiences of, installing renewable heat technology and applying to the RHI scheme.

Key insights from NatCen’s research with new owner-occupier applicants to the domestic RHI include[1]:

  • Almost half of new applicants perceived the RHI to have had an impact on their decision to install a renewable heat technology.  42% said that without the RHI they would not have replaced their heating system at all, while 7% said they would have installed a non-renewable technology;
  • Financial reasons, such as claiming the RHI or saving money on bills, were the most common reason for choosing to install a renewable heat technology. However, the importance of financial reasons for choosing to install a renewable heat technology has gradually declined over time;
  • The RHI has particularly attracted owner-occupiers proactively replacing heating systems, rather than people whose heating systems had broken down;
  • Installers of renewable heat technology were important in raising awareness of renewable heat technologies and the RHI among owner-occupier applicants; and
  • The majority (80%) of owner-occupiers were satisfied with their renewable heat technology.

Other strands of the evaluation, conducted by Eunomia, Centre for Sustainable Energy and Frontier Economics, provide additional insights on applicants’ experiences of the non-domestic RHI as well as gathering the perspectives of the renewable heat supply chain and social housing providers on and off the scheme.

Nico Jabin, Research Director, NatCen Social Research commented: “Our research indicates that the RHI has been an important in encouraging those who’ve joined the scheme to install renewable heating systems. The findings of this independent evaluation are particularly timely as the Government is due to consult on possible changes to the scheme in the coming months.”

ENDS

Full findings from the evaluation and details of the study methodology can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/renewable-heat-incentive-evaluation

For more information please contact Leigh Marshall 0207 569 8506 07828 031 850 and leigh.marshall@natcen.ac.uk

Notes to editors:

About NatCen

NatCen Social Research is an independent, not for profit organisation. We believe that social research has the power to make life better. By really understanding the complexity of people’s lives and what they think about the issues that affect them, we give the public a powerful and influential role in shaping decisions and services that can make a difference to everyone.

About the Renewable Heat Incentive

The Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) is the world’s first long-term financial support programme for renewable heat. The scheme is designed to bridge the gap between the cost of fossil fuel heat sources and renewable heat alternatives, through financial support for owners of participating installations. The RHI was first introduced for non-domestic applicants (commercial, industrial, public sector, not for profit and systems heating multiple domestic dwellings) in November 2011 and was expanded to include households in April 2014.

Scheme participants are paid a tariff per kilowatt hour of heat generated, with payments made quarterly for either seven years (domestic) or 20 years (non-domestic). Renewable heating technologies eligible for the scheme include biomass boilers, heat pumps and solar thermal systems. The non-domestic scheme also includes biogas, combined heat and power (CHP), energy from waste and biomethane injection to grid. The principal high level objectives of the RHI to date have been to:

  • support the UK in meeting the 2020 renewable energy target;
  • contribute to meeting carbon budgets as renewable heating systems deliver carbon savings;
  • compared to fossil fuel alternatives; and
  • support the longer-term 2050 decarbonisation target by building sustainable supply chains.

 



[1] ‘Legacy’ applications commissioned their installations before 9 April 2014. ‘New’ applications commissioned their installations on or after this date.