Don’t fall foul of an RHI audit – get your biomass fuel records in order

Under the non-domestic Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) around 19,000 biomass boilers have been installed in Great Britain. Any Government scheme giving grants or rebates has a requirement for compliance and ongoing obligations and this is certainly the case for RHI participants with biomass systems. However, from our own experience and talking with colleagues and Ofgem auditors it is clear that many RHI participants have only a basic understanding of what they should be doing. In particular, the lack of fuel records (e.g. amount of woodchip or straw bales used) or the sketchy nature of any that are kept has been found to be wanting in around 70% of all users who were audited.

This is really important as failure to have the right fuel records to present on demand to the auditor could lead to Ofgem withholding or reducing a participant’s RHI periodic support payments.

If you are worried you’re not complying with the RHI rules then your first port of call should be the Non Domestic RHI Easy Guide to Compliance which provides information on all the things you need to do during the 20 years of your non-domestic RHI agreement. You should also consult the Guide to keeping fuel records. This document provides examples of the type of fuel log books that would satisfy the auditors.

Information that participants need to retain includes:

  • Volume or weight of biomass fuel used (and how you measured this)
  • Type of biomass fuel used (e.g. wood chip or straw bales)
  • Where biomass fuel is sourced from (e.g. purchased from third party, self-supplied)
  • Date the fuel was delivered or harvested
  • Details of location where any harvesting took place
  • Amount of fuel/feedstock purchased, including invoices (if purchased from a third party)
  • Moisture content of your fuel (for applications made on or after 24 September 2013)
  • SFR or Biomass Supplier List (BSL) authorisation number(s) of the fuel if purchasing from the BSL or registered as a self-supplier (or producer-trader)

But what if your boiler has been installed 5 years ago and your record keeping has been patchy? You may think that your luck is running out and you’re due an audit? You may squirm at the thought of an auditor meticulously going through all your hand scribbled logs and picking fault with everything you do. A bit like a police officer stopping you for a dicky car headlight and then deciding to take a look in the boot!

If you really want your records in tip top condition then you should engage our services. We can produce a highly polished spreadsheet showing all the required information for each fuel, each month, each year for each boiler set against the monthly heat produced. If you can provide this to your auditor they will love you – this will probably be the only records that they have seen all week to be in such a fit state. They’ll be able to tick the box and shake your hand – job done!

We can produce an audit friendly spreadsheet for biomass fuel used for each month, each year and each boiler tying it together with your BSL or SFR registrations.

If provided with all the fuel usage information and meter readings we can sort the information in just a few hours. We have helped numerous clients with this already.

One of the many fringe benefits of this is that our method of record keeping gives an indication of how well your boiler is working. If the boiler is operating at a low efficiency then your boiler may need a service or your fuel may not be as dry as you thought it was. Doing things properly will therefore keep the auditor happy and also ensure that you are maintaining your boiler in good working order which is good for your pocket and the environment too.

If you are drowning in RHI paperwork and want a fuel record SOS then please contact us.