I have already blogged extensively about the Renwable Heat Incentive (the RHI), and the problematic nature of this proposed subsidy for heat pumps, biomass boilers and hot water solar panels. It was launched back in February 2010 as a “consultation document” but, in truth, it was rather more than this because it gave details not only of the projected subsidies available but also of a timetable. It stated that it would come into effect in April 2011 and that anyone installing renewable heat equipment after July 2009 would qualify for the incentive. That sounds like a a detailed proposal to me. The document called for responses by April. That deadline has long since passed and there has been no word since then about what will happen next.
A change of government in May hasn’t helped, particularly as spending cuts now seem to be the order of the day. Potential customers are all delaying orders until the position of the RHI becomes clear. Manufacturers and installers are now having to lay off staff because the market has dried up because of the confusion. All that is needed is some guidance from central government to relieve the situation.
So yesterday, Chris Huhne, the Energy Secretary, gets up in parliament and delivers his first annual energy statement. Everyone connected to this small industry is holding their breath for news of the RHI. And this is what he says. “In the heating sector, I can confirm our strong commitment to action on renewable heat. The Government is considering responses to the Renewable Heat Incentive consultation and will set out detailed options following the Spending Review.”
Groans all round. That could mean anything. It certainly doesn’t sound like anything soonish. My guess is that we now won’t see any response to the RHI Consultation until sometime in 2011. By which time this small industry will be a whole lot smaller.