Support Scheme for Renewable Heat – Irish “RHI” announced

The long awaited Irish “RHI” has been formally announced. The Support Scheme for Renewable Heat (SSRH) is designed to financially support the replacement of fossil fuel heating systems with renewable energy for large heat demand non-domestic users. This covers commercial, industrial, agricultural, district heating, public sector and other non-domestic businesses.

It is widely hoped that the SSRH will provide the springboard to develop the supply chain for 110,000 tonnes of indigenous fuel from energy crops such as willow, miscanthus and eucalyptus as well as residues from woodland production.

The SSRH will consist of two types of support mechanism:

  • A tariff based system similar to the UK RHI paid for a period up to 15 years for new installations or installations that currently use a fossil fuel heating system and convert to using biomass heating systems or anaerobic digestion heating systems
  • A grant (of up to 30%) to support investment in renewable heating systems that use heat pumps

The proposed tariffs for the Scheme are:

TierLower Limit (MWh/yr)Upper Limit (MWh/yr)Biomass Heating Systems Tariff (c/kWh)Anaerobic Digestion Heating Systems (c/kWh)

The Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) will administer the SSRH and develop the detailed Terms and Conditions, including eligibility and sustainability criteria and these must be approved by the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment. Initial information on the scheme is available here.

Once SEAI have developed the T&Cs the next step will be to seek European Commission State Aid approval. Once this is achieved it is expected that the scheme will commence operation probably by the summer of 2018.

The 2018 budget is €7 million which suggests that they are not expecting to process too many applications by the end of the year. Also, the unexpectedly low tariff level for larger installations (0.5c/kWh for systems with annual usage of 1,000 MWH/yr ) does seem unlikely to bring forward large numbers of multi megawatt plants.