Less than 1% of the renewable capacity required this year signed-up in first three months

Less than 1% of the extra renewable heat capacity needed this year to keep the government on track to meet its targets for its renewable heat incentive scheme has been installed and accredited in the first three months of the programme.

The Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) offers payments to people who install heat pumps, biomass boilers, solar thermal systems and other renewable heat generators into their properties for every MWh of heat they produce.

Figures from Ofgem show that only 10 installations with a total capacity of 3.5MWh have been accredited since the scheme, which is currently only open to non-domestic installations, launched in November last year.

The government’s has said it expects an extra 57million MWh of capacity to be installed by 2020, which equates to around 6.3million MWh of capacity each year through to 2020.

There has been a further 289 applications to the scheme but over half of these are small biomass plants.

David Frise, head of sustainability at the Building and Engineering Services Association, said: “I think there has been a lack of preparation [by industry] and there has been very little publicity.”

Bill Wright, head of energy solutions at the Electrical Contractors Association, said he expected a low take-up at the beginning of the scheme, but that things would pick-up.

“There has been a lot of biomass installations put in but you need a metering system to claim the incentive and that has caught a lot of people out,” he said.

He added that the need to get an assessment of the metering set-up on each installation was slowing roll-out because there was a shortage of assessors.

The figures also showed that that very few applications for the RHI have been approved.

Ofgem said receiving the incorrect information from installers was causing delays.

Industry leaders said they feared the delays could be damaging to the reputation of the scheme.

Paul Weaver, head of Mansell Energy, said: “My worry is that people have a look at the scheme and decide it’s too complicated and it turned them off it.”

He said he had had to build into the business model for Mansell’s RHI work the provision that it would hold clients’ hands through the process.

Wright added: “I don’t think people understand the metering requirements. You have to have an approved assessment and it has to be assessed by a qualified assessor and I think there are relatively few assessors.”

Ofgem will hold a series of stakeholder events over the next two months to help improve the quality of applications.