Friday, 17 August 2012

RHPP Community Scheme: Open now for applications

If you are a community organisation looking for an opportunity to use bulk buying to bring down the cost of installing renewable heat in domestic properties in your area you may be eligible for the Communities Scheme

The Department of Energy and Climate Change Renewable Heat Premium Payment (RHPP) Community Scheme will support communities to deliver clusters of domestic renewable heating systems.

The RHPP Community Scheme aims to provide communities with the opportunity to cost-effectively organise local buying groups for renewable heating systems, potentially accessing bulk discounts and facilitating easier deployment for installers.

The Scheme will support installation of renewable heating systems in homes by providing vouchers to householders. It is targeted at making renewable heating affordable for middle to low income households and aims to maximise carbon reduction by reaching homes with high carbon heating systems that are expensive to run (especially those off the gas network) and ensuring that heating systems are installed after or alongside energy efficiency measures. Development support will also be provided to successful groups.

  • Technologies that are supported under the scheme include:
  • Solar thermal panels
  • Heat pumps (air to water, ground source or water source, excluding air to air and exhaust air heat pumps)
  • Biomass Boilers

When is the deadline?

Applications opened July 24th and will run until September 7th

Want to know more?

More detailed information, supporting documentation and an opportunity to apply can be found by accessing the Energy Saving Trust website.

Please read documentation before applying, should you have any questions please don’t hesitate to contact the communities team on 02920 467 015 or by emailing

Surrey Hills Wood Fuel Conference - Fri Oct 5th 2012

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Job Vacancy - South Downs National Park

The South Downs National Park Authority is recruiting a Forestry and Woodland Officer:

  • Main aim will be to bring more woodlands into active management to improve their biodiversity and secure their future within the National Park landscape.
  • Particular emphasis will be placed on the sustainable management of native and ancient woodland and restoring the ecological value of PAWS in the South Downs.
  • The project will bring together landowners, land managers and contractors to develop and respond to the evolving markets and business opportunities including wood fuel and sustainable construction.
  • The successful candidate must have knowledge and experience of the forestry and woodland management sector, together with knowledge of woodland ecology, recreational and resource management and cultural heritage.
  • They will be highly organised and be able to produce site management plans.
  • Using their knowledge of contracts and contract management, facilitate implementation of projects through contractors. Knowledge of health and safety legislation as it relates to the post is essential.  
Full details can be found on the South Downs National Park website.  The closing date for applications is 23 August 2012, 11:30am.

RHI: 100th accredited application

The 100th installation was accredited to the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) scheme on 19th June 2012.

The Meikleour Trust, a Scottish estate, installed a 500kWth biomass boiler to supply heat via a district heating system to a range of buildings including the main house, a greenhouse, holiday lets and other outbuildings. 

The owner also intends to expand the system to a planned housing development in the future. The fuel is local wood chip that is sourced from sustainable local forestry.

The most recent RHI quarterly report from Ofgem shows a high uptake of solid biomass installations which make up 99% of capacity and 90% of total accreditations under the scheme.

Chart 1 shows the total installed capacity accredited by the scheme since November 2011. As of 30 June 2012, a total of 49.41 MW of installed capacity had been accredited to the scheme.

Heat pumps (ground and water combined) make up 8% of accredited installations and 0.75% of capacity. 

Biogas and solar thermal technologies each account for 1% of the total number of accredited installations as well as 0.24% and 0.01% of accredited capacity respectively.

A total of 121 renewable heat installations have
been accredited under the scheme, seven of which
are preliminary accreditations.
  • Only four applications have been rejected, all because applicants had received public funds or grants.
  • 49.41 MW of total capacity has been accredited, 11.36 MW of which is preliminary.
  • A total of £350,594 in RHI periodic payments has been made to participants.

The number of accredited installations for the second quarter increased from 20 at the end of March to 121 installations accredited by the end of June.

Solid biomass installations continues to make up the majority of accredited installations and accredited capacity.

Installed capacity has increased to 49.41 MW from 5.25 MW. The amount of periodic payments made to participants has increased from £9,707 to £350,594.

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Renewable Heat Premium Payment for Communities

Our friends at Oxford Renewables have kindly summarised the key points of the RHPP2 scheme (Renewable Heat Premium Payment) which focuses on community-scale projects.

Scheme Aims:

'The RHPP Community Scheme aims to provide communities with the opportunity to cost-effectively organise local buying groups for renewable heating systems, potentially accessing bulk discounts and facilitating easier deployment for installers... 

The scheme is targeted at making renewable heating affordable for middle to low income households... RHPP2 Communities Scheme also aims to maximise carbon reduction by reaching homes with high carbon, expensive heating system (especially for those off the gas network) and ensuring that heating system are installed after or alongside energy efficiency measure.'


'...legally constituted community benefit organisations or community groups. all lead organisations must have a community benefit structure... aims to support low to middle income homes... communities connected to the mains gas network are... less likely to be funded'

Stage 1 application

'...will be open from 24th July to 7th September...communities should be able to explain what they would like to achieve, identify who they think they will need to work with, what they think they will be able to deliver successfully.'

Project Co-development stage:

'...Proposals will include details of the number of installations to be funded, level of funding required and details of the group will work with households and the private sector... there will be two sets of workshops to help groups through the process'

Stage 2 application:

Applicants wil be able to set their own value for household capital grants up to maximum levels across different technologies (equivalent between 10% and 40% of capital cost depending on how well your project meets the scheme criteria)... applications will be scored against the following criteria:

  • value for money
  • innovation and replicability
  • legacy and learning
  • deliverability

Implementation stage:

'...grants will be paid on completion of installations and themajority of the work will ned to be complete by 31st March. However, groups will be allowed to complete the last 35% of their installations by the end of June 2013 as long as 65% of their installations are complete and grant claimed by 31st March. 

Funding for renewable heat installations will be paid direct to householders on completion of their installation.

The scheme is being administered by the Energy Saving Trust - click here for full details.

Eligible technologies:

  • Solar thermal panels
  • Heat pumps (air to water, ground source or water source, excluding air to air and exhaust air heat pumps)
  • Biomass Boilers


1. Areas that are most likely to attract funding.

2. These are groups that have already received grants to determine available energy efficiency measures and that may be interested in this programme too.

3. Using this tool will help identify the area within which the community has to be located to attract the funding.

4. FAQs

5. Energy Saving Trust RHPP2 pages.

6. DECC policy web pages.

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Renewable Heat Incentive: Providing certainty, improving performance

Here at Woodfuel Pathfinder Towers we have been trying to decipher the recent slew of information on the Renewable Heat Incentive and related matters.  

Just as we got our collective heads around the review of the Clean Air Act, new Ofgem guidance on heat metering and scheme administration and announcement of DECC’s budget management mechanism yet another consultation on the RHI has been issued.

The “Renewable Heat Incentive: Providing certainty,improving performance” sets out a series of proposals for the non-domestic RHI (Phase I) relating to longer-term budget management and scheme improvements, including biomass sustainability, air quality and changes to the metering requirements.

Needless to say the document is long and technical so we have attempted to extract the salient points from the executive summary.  

The proposals are important and anyone considering investing should set aside a some to read the document and familiarise themselves with the proposed changes, particularly as we may have missed something.

Before we get going we thought we would highlight the following tables that show the latest position on RHI uptake and payments (England only, see Ofgem web site for full report).

Renewable Heat Incentive: Providing certainty, improving performance

Executive summary – key points:

  • Controlling spend while providing certainty and transparency is a far greater challenge than simply keeping within a pre-determined budget.
  • The consultation sets out proposals for longer-term budget management and how DECC will aim to provide market certainty alongside budgetary control.
  • These proposals would only apply to new applications and only to the RHI scheme as it currently stands (i.e. non-domestic). Proposals would be extended to other technologies brought into the non-domestic scheme, which will be consulted on from September 2012.
  • Budget management proposal is to use a flexible degression-based system. Under this system tariff reductions for new applications would occur if deployment was approaching pre-determined triggers, at which point a small tariff reduction would occur automatically.
  • Proposed triggers for each technology and for the RHI overall will be based on the level of deployment required to keep us on a trajectory to deliver the 2020 renewables target.
  • Degression announcements would be made quarterly, with one month’s notice being given for any reductions.
  • Triggers for tariff reductions will be set out in advance and progress towards those triggers will be monitored and made available monthly on the DECC website.

  • The size of possible reductions would also be set out in advance, with a small reduction if deployment is slightly above that needed, and a larger reduction if deployment is significantly higher than that needed for the 2020 renewables targets.
  • In addition, DECC is proposing to carry out periodic reviews of the RHI, starting in 2014, to take stock of the evidence on the operation of the scheme and consider ways of improving it further. These reviews will provide an opportunity to recalibrate tariffs and if necessary, make changes to the tariff structure.
  • DECC has set out a potential option, enhanced preliminary accreditation. This would allow applicants to develop and accredit an installation that, when built, would receive a tariff guaranteed at the point of application for enhanced preliminary accreditation. Applications would be subject to time and size limits according to each technology.
  • It is equally important that the RHI is sustainable in the wider sense, so DECC will put forward proposals for biomass sustainability criteria.
  • The proposals are that biomass used for heat will have to achieve a lifecycle greenhouse gas (GHG) saving of 60% against an EU fossil heat average. The lifecycle assessment would take account of emissions from cultivation, processing and transport of the biomass, and reflect the conversion efficiency of the boiler plant. This would ensure a significant GHG saving relative to the use of coal, oil or fossil gas for heating.
  • Furthermore, for wood-fuel, we propose that the land criteria correspond to meeting the UK public procurement policy on wood and wood products. This approach requires that suppliers should have available documentary evidence demonstrating the wood supplied is from legal and sustainable sources or is from a licensed Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) partner.
  • For installations below 1MWth capacity, DECC proposes that, from April 2014, they have to purchase their biomass from an approved supplier list. For larger installations DECC proposes that RHI participants would provide reports on the sustainability of their fuel to Ofgem.
  • In the March 2011 RHI policy document DECC committed to introducing limits on the emissions of particulate matter (PM) and oxides of nitrogen (NOx) from biomass installations up to 20MWth capacity. This consultation proposes what the compliance regime should be for those emissions limits.
  • The consultation sets out proposals for simplifying the metering arrangements. DECC proposes that, in most cases, heat transported in external pipes insulated to a specified standard will be eligible heat use and will not be deducted from RHI payments. Therefore, where all heat uses are eligible, only the metering of eligible renewable heat generation would be required.

Other improvements:
  • clarifying the eligibility around ground source heat pumps
  • allowing renewable heat plants to be moved under the RHI
  • clarifying eligible heat use
  • simplifying the rules for biogas metering
  • ensuring biomass boilers are not oversized specifically to claim the tier 1 tariff
  • dealing with how the Retail Price Index (RPI) applies to low tariffs, such as large biomass

With regard to boiler sizing Biomass DECC has anecdotal evidence that there may be installations of biomass boilers which are inappropriate for the heat demand they are intended to serve but have been sized in order to claim the tier 1 tariff only. DECC considers this to be poor practice and is likely to have a detrimental long-term financial impact on the owner of the installation. DECC intends to introduce an eligibility requirement to prevent such installations from benefitting from the RHI.

For all the proposed changes, apart from those on sustainability, within this consultation grandfathering will apply; only applications which are accredited after these changes come into force will be affected. All those installations accredited currently or before these changes, will have to meet current eligibility requirements.

Make your woodland pay its way

A step by step guide to applying for grant funding for roads projects, and to  help bring woodland back into management, has been produced by Ngage, the company responsible for managing the Woodfuel Woodland Improvement Grant (WWIG) on behalf of the Forestry Commission.

WWIG provides a valuable, government funded scheme that has been specifically designed to turn un-managed woodland into productive land.

Mike Furness, Project Manager at Ngage Solutions has written a helpful blog with a simple step-by-step guide for potential grant applicants. It is published on the Ngage website.

Mike is keen to assist woodland owners, to take advantage of this opportunity to make their woods more productive. There is money available for both road and timber projects, and Mike will be happy to talk through proposals even before an application is submitted to help candidates maximise their chances of successful application.

Ngage Solutions is administering the WWIG on behalf of the Forestry Commission in three regions: Cumbria, the South West and the South East. 

This grant is time limited, so act now to find out more about the scheme.

Contact Mike Furness, Project Manager Ngage Solutions Ltd,  on 01494 568970 or 07795 515 413, or by emailing Mike.

To find out more about Woodfuel WIG come and see the Forestry Commission at the APF show 13 1- 5 September stand G4.

For interested readers the Forestry Commission has some guidance on forest roads which can be found here. You will quickly see that it is a technical subject and in many cases it may be far simpler to just call Mike and ask for support!