The future for biomass heating is looking increasingly bright due to considerable Heat Incentive payments and because it has a number of advantages over other renewables. In particular it is not weather dependent like solar and wind and so to an extent is more predictable and much easier for heating engineers to calculate the likely performance of a biomass installation.
The governments revised payments expected to be in place by autumn should not adversely affect the biomass market. Tariffs for biomass boilers with over 1MW capacity are expected to double alongside generous improvements for ground source heat pumps and solar thermal projects. Biomass projects between 200kW and 1MW will have tariffs downgraded as this size has reached the scheme digression point, however they still have a strong financial proposition.
The applications however for RHI funding has not gone as easily as hoped for, the application process has been quite complex and scheme administrator Ofgem is in the process of simplifying it. There have been so far more than 2,000 applications but only £9m of the £860m fund has been spent.
Even when they have been accredited nearly half of those subsequently audited have had their payments suspended because they have failed to keep records of their fuel consumption; 30% are found to have meter parts not correctly installed and some show inconsistencies between data on the meter and information sent to Ofgem. It has been noted that some engineers have even mistaken kilowatts for megawatts, so it is not been fraud committed just lots of incompetence. If the meter is incorrectly installed it has a knock on effect of the whole system, the industry has a responsibility to get this right from the start for the sake of the long-term development of the renewable heating market.