Financial support available for renewable heating

Energy Minister Arlene Foster has revealed details of long term financial incentives for those wishing to install renewable energy technologies to heat their properties.

The minister is loooking to put the legislation in place to enable the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) to launch in the early Autumn.

The RHI will allow people and businesses to install technologies such as biomass boilers, heat pumps and solar thermal panels by providing incentive payments over the lifetime of the technology.

The RHI will be open to non-domestic customers in the first instance and will support already established technologies and it’s hoped the scheme will be expanded to cover the domestic sector.

Arlene Foster said: “It is vital that Northern Ireland begins developing a more sustainable heating market rather than relying solely on imported fossil fuels.

“The launch of the RHI, in conjunction with the grant support already in place for domestic customers, represents £25million of funding to 2015. This demonstrates my commitment to this sector and my desire to see levels of renewable heating increase.”

It’s thought the introduction of the scheme will help increase the use of renewable heating to four per cent by 2015 and 10 per cent by 2020.

The minister continued: “The RHI will provide businesses, community groups, schools, churches and other organisations with long term financial support when switching to renewable heating. In addition, the development of this sector will provide opportunities for local firms involved in the supply of renewable heating and renewable fuels.

“In these times of higher energy prices, my department is committed to exploring opportunities to provide greater choice for consumers, promoting more sustainable technologies and supporting those wishing to change from conventional fossil fuel heating. The development of this sector is important in the realisation of a more diverse, secure and competitive heating market in Northern Ireland.”

The scheme will be launched once appropriate legislation has been passed by the Assembly, scheduled for Autumn 2012, however installations commissioned from the beginning of September 2010 will be eligible to apply for support.

More information on the eligibility standards under the scheme will be made available by the Department of Enterprise trade and Investment later this month.