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RHI changes allow updates to heating plant, says FEC


Changes to the renewable heat incentive (RHI) scheme come into effect in October, allowing participating growers to replace already-accredited elements of their heating system, such as boilers, engines and heat pumps, as long as they retain the same type of technology.

The change was made to help in cases where equipment was wearing out and breaking down but the NFU’s consultancy FEC Energy says it’s also good news for growers whose requirements have evolved and need extra capacity or find their existing plant is now over-size.

Boilers being operated for long hours can be prone to breakdowns while other set-ups of lower build quality, installed when RHI was introduced, could now be showing signs of deterioration, says FEC Energy. The changes will enable participants to replace their plant to combat this, make the system more efficient or install new equipment.

“Up to now, if your plant broke down and couldn’t be repaired, or you wanted to change your boiler, for example, you would have had to make a new RHI application with a new tariff rate,” said FEC Energy senior engineer Thomas Wilkins. “The regulation changes give participants the flexibility to upgrade their systems while still receiving the tariff that applied originally.”

Such changes could include replacing a boiler with one of larger rated capacity – though while the tier 1 threshold would be based on the original boiler size, the total heat supported would be capped so some of the additional heat would not receive RHI money.

Alternatively if a boiler is now larger than needed, it’s unlikely to be running efficiently, which could be remedied by installing a smaller one. “You will still receive the same tariff but your tier 1 threshold will be reduced and based on the new boiler capacity,” said Mr Wilkins.

The new rules also mean growers will now be able to swap their biomass boiler type, for example from one burning wood pellets to one using cheaper fuel such as woodchip or logs.

FEC Energy says that while a new RHI application will still need to be made in each case, existing participants would be subject to the regulations and tariff rates in force at the time of their original installation.

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