‘Policy disconnect’ leaves renewable heat feeling the cold

A "disconnect" between various government policies is leaving renewable heat out in the cold, MPs have heard today.

The Energy and Climate Change Committee (ECCC) has been told there is “not enough of a relationship between the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI), the Green Deal, and the Energy Company obligation (Eco) to push heat pumps” into domestic homes.

Kelly Butler, marketing director at BEAMA, told the committee that while “it is still quite early days” for the schemes, there will have to be “some changes” to them to encourage the rollout of heat pumps.

Butler as told MPs that Eco is a “complex programme” and links between it and the Green Deal is “causing some issues”.

He added: “There seems to be a lot going on in terms of consultation and policy making that seems to be disconnected.

“We are very concerned that we have the Department of Energy and Climate Change (Decc) pushing renewable heat and the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) systematically taking it apart.”

Chris Davidson, chair of the policy development committee for the Ground Source Heat Pump Association, said: “There is quite a bit of confusion in the market place; there is a poor understanding out there.

“It is improving but it needs to improve more quickly.”

Marcus Stewart, energy demand manager at national Grid, shared some of his fellow panel members concerns, saying “we’re still quite uncertain about how [RHI] will work”, but added that it should help get air-source heat pumps installed in off gas-grid properties.

Donald Daw, divisional commercial director at Mitsubishi Electric UK, conceded that new building regulations are “a lot softer than they need to be” in order to encourage renewable heat into new build properties, but he was more optimistic on the impact of RHI.

He said: “It is very early to say because the policy has just been announced, but the initial response from people in the industry is that the level of interest is up.”