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10.20 - 25th January 2012

The Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) and District Energy – a heated debate

Following the launch of the RHI, the district energy industry has been a buzz with debate over whether the incentive does enough to encourage well designed district heating schemes. One of the main issues is that the scheme bases its payment rates on the presumption that as the scheme grows in size, the cost of equipment in terms of each kWh generated reduces. Whilst this is true of many renewable heat technologies, it is not so for district heating, particularly large schemes where there are long stretches of heat pipes and multiple terminations.

The proposal for a heat pipe payment (HPP) is designed to go some way towards supporting the larger schemes as it would generate a higher payment rate for larger schemes which are using more pipe. This suggestion by a member of the UKDEA’s District Energy and District Heating Group on LinkedIn has sparked an interesting debate around the subject and some thought provoking responses.

UKDEA member Keith Riley, from Veolia Environmental Services commented, “The RO and RHI need to be reformed to support energy efficiency. At the moment neither do that - indeed, the RO actually encourages relatively low efficiency technologies.”

Other contributors suggested that there should have been a District Heating element within the RHI for installations of over 1MW that meet certain conditions.

The discussion includes a poll of readers, which currently suggests that over 60% of the voters consider a Heat Pipe Payment (HPP) to be a critical addition to the RHI if it is to truly support large district heating schemes, compared to just 6% who think it would make little difference. The debate is ongoing, so to register your vote or air your views on this topical discussion visit the UKDEA LinkedIn group or submit your views to the This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it for inclusion.