Independent research reveals 79% of potential non-domestic customers unaware of government incentive

More than three-quarters of potential business customers of the government’s pioneering renewable heat subsidy scheme are unaware it exists, nearly three years after its launch, research has found.

Independent research published last week by the Department of Energy and Climate Change found 79% of potential non-domestic customers were unaware of the government’s renewable heat incentive (RHI) scheme and found it was “not yet playing a major role in promoting wider awareness of renewable heating technologies”.

However, the research also found the installation process was running smoothly and nearly all the people who used the scheme were happy with their renewable heat systems.

The RHI pays people who install renewable heat systems in their commercial buildings a subsidy for each megawatt of heat they produce.

The scheme was launched in November 2011 and the long-awaited domestic version of the scheme was launched in April this year.

It’s the first scheme of its kind in the world - no other government subsidises renewable heat based on its output - and has the potential to create a substantial market for renewable heating installers and manufacturers.

But the research found there was “room for improvement” in the application process with more than half of applicants to the scheme experiencing problems completing the application.

However, 90% of applicants surveyed said they were either “very” or “fairly” satisfied with the end results and just under two-thirds said the installation itself was a “fairly” or “very” easy process.

David Frise, head of sustainability at the Building and Engineering Services Association, said that he “expected” a low level of awareness of the scheme because “the government have not spent any money on awareness”.

But he added: “The industry itself has not promoted it desperately well. We all knew the government were not going to put any money behind it. To give them their credit they have got a scheme in place that actually works.”