This is the key point: if you ask me, ensuring renewable heating systems work well is down to the quality of the installation – and that means it’s up to you installers!
Following the EST heat pump field trial, a lot of work was done on the MCS installer standard, MIS 3005. With it, I think the domestic renewable heating industry is ready for the RHI. MIS 3005 is now a pretty robust standard; it requires detailed measurements and calculations and forces careful consideration of the most important elements of a new installation. But it’s also there to help you – the ground-loop look-up tables for GSHPs, for instance, make sizing a domestic ground loop straightforward. All MCS standards must be followed in the domestic RHI and we’re working with MCS, who are beefing up their surveillance, to make sure they are.
For heat pumps, the domestic RHI is designed in a way that pays more to installations designed to be more efficient. That’s on top of the extra fuel bill savings customers will benefit from. We have done this by basing RHI payments on kWhs of renewable heat using the Temperature Star Rating in the Heat Emitter Guide. There’s an example of how this will work in chapter 3 of the policy document.
We’ve introduced this measure because we want installers to have both eyes on (a) reducing heat losses (which increases the Temperature Star Rating and reduce customers’ fuel bills); and (b) designing an emitter system that can run at low temperatures (which also increases the Temperature Star Rating). We expect installers to target properties that are already well insulated because of this, since these installations will find it easier to get to 4, 5, or 6 stars. Do check your calculations thoroughly because this is an area where we anticipate Ofgem will have a thorough audit regime, in addition to the surveillance already inside MCS.
Designing the most efficient system possible is important but I think it’s even more important to check your own work so that actual performance matches design performance in every case. That’s why RHI payments will be increased by £200/year – £230/year for any customer that buys a Metering and Monitoring Service Package. Have a look at our guidance document on what this involves and who’s eligible. For the customer, a Metering and Monitoring Service Package provides peace of mind that their installation is working well – subsidised by the Government.
For the installer, this is a golden opportunity to review real-life data from the installations you do and learn from it. For instance, you can confirm flow rates, flow temperatures, cycle times and supplementary or immersion heater use. (When I review data from RHPP installations, I can’t tell you how often I see heat pumps turning ON/OFF every few minutes – it’s bad for efficiency and wears components, so please don’t let it happen!!)
As a manufacturer, reviewing this data with your installers is a great way to support and build the reputation of your supply chain. For Government, we can aggregate the data and make sure everyone has the opportunity to learn from the most common pitfalls. I think they’re a great opportunity to make sure your current and future customers get a genuine 6-star service, so if the equipment you install is eligible, I hope you consider designing this equipment into your installations straight away.
Here’s a final thought: if you’ve read DECC’s recently-published heat strategy, or played with DECC’s brilliant – and now international – 2050 calculator, you’ll see that this Government is committed to domestic renewable and low-carbon heating for the long term. So the future is bright. How bright, if you ask me, depends on you, the people in industry. Do you have the aspiration to offer a 6-star service? To go and check for yourselves and your customers (using metering) that all of your installations are functioning as well as they can? To hunt out continuous improvement? Invest in training and skills? And drive down costs? At DECC, we hope so. The domestic RHI is there to work hand-in-hand with industry to make these things happen.