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Foster outlines proposals for expanding renewable heat scheme

Energy Minister Arlene Foster has today launched a public consultation on proposals to expand and extend a scheme that provides financial support for consumers installing and utilising renewable heat technologies.

The Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) has been in place in Northern Ireland since November 2012 and the Minister has today announced that this scheme will be extended to the domestic sector and expanded to incentivise more innovative technologies. It is expected that these new measures will assist in developing the local renewable heat market and attaining a level of 10% renewable heat by 2020.

Launching the consultation Arlene Foster said: “My Department has a proven track record for supporting and developing the local renewable energy market. Over the past year, DETI has committed close to £2million for new renewable heating installations and I look forward to providing further funding for more installations in the years ahead.

“The RHI provides businesses, hotels, leisure centres, churches and schools with the opportunity to receive ongoing financial assistance to cover the costs incurred when switching to renewable heating. I am pleased to propose that this scheme is extended to support the domestic market and to include new technologies.”

The Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment (DETI) proposes to provide domestic customers with a grant to assist in the upfront costs of renewable heat. In addition, an ongoing annual payment will be provided to support the running costs of the technology. This payment will last for seven years and will ensure that the additional costs involved in renewables are met.

The Minister continued: “Since the launch of the Renewable Heat Premium Payment scheme over 1,000 domestic customers have begun the process to switch to renewables. This is a positive news story for the Northern Ireland energy market as consumers embrace new technologies, reduce their carbon emissions and help support the development of this new sector. My proposals are aimed at increasing this number further and providing long term support for domestic customers moving to renewables.”

In addition to providing long term support for domestic customers, DETI is also introducing new tariffs for the non-domestic scheme to cover technologies that are less well established. DETI proposes to begin incentivising large scale biomass, deep geothermal, bioliquids and air source heat pumps. These proposals have been developed following independent research which was part financed by the European Regional Development Fund under the European Sustainable Competitiveness Programme for Northern Ireland.

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Arlene Foster concluded: “It is vital that the renewable heat sector in Northern Ireland continues to develop and expand, which is why I propose to extend financial support to more innovative technologies as well as introducing new measures in the domestic market. These proposals are designed to make renewable heating part of the mainstream energy mix.

“By securing increased levels of renewable heating, Northern Ireland becomes more self-sufficient, more energy secure and reduces our carbon footprint. The RHI also presents a real opportunity for businesses and homes to take control of their heating bills by availing of the considerable support my Department is providing.

“I would encourage everyone with an interest in renewable heat, to consider these proposals and use this opportunity to make your views known to the Department.”

The consultation process will last for 12 weeks and further information on the proposals and on how to respond can be found at http://www.energy.detini.gov.uk.


Notes to editors:

1. Renewable heat is heat produced from renewable sources such as solar radiation, biomass materials, heat pumps, geothermal energy, anaerobic digestion and waste materials.

2. The consultation paper has been informed by research undertaken by Cambridge Economic Policy Associates (CEPA), in conjunction with Ricardo AEA.

3. The consultation document and relevant appended documents, as well as the economic appraisal, have been published on the DETI website at http://www.energy.detini.gov.uk. Further information on the current incentive schemes can be found at http://www.nidirect.gov.uk/energywise