Monday, 24 September 2012

RHI Consultations - Part 2

In addition to the domestic RHI consultation two additional consultations were launched last week by DECC which  are of relevance to the biomass heating sector.

The first consultation looks at the expansion of the commercial scheme (or Phase I launched during November 2011) and includes direct air heaters, extension of biogas support and a new specific tariff for biomass CHP (closes on 7th December 2012).

The second consultation focuses on air to water heat pumps and energy from waste (closes on 18 October 2012).

Key proposals of relevance to the biomass sector include:

  • Introduction of a specific tariff for heat from biomass CHP of 4.1p/kWh 
  • Extension of biogas combustion tariffs to installations over 200kW 
  • Inclusion of biomass direct air heaters with a proposed tariff of 2.1p/kWh under 1MW and 1p/kWh over 1MW.  Three options for determining the RHI payment are also presented.  This could be of interest to operators of exhibition/event venues and warehouses/storage where conventional wet or underfloor heating is not feasible.
  • Increased range of waste feedstocks eligible for support (to be consistent with the Renewables Obligation) and continue to pay the biomass tariff for the biomass proportion of the waste. This will extend RHI support to commercial and industrial waste.
  • New requirements for energy efficiency for commercial and district heating schemes.  For district heating compliance with Green Deal 'green tick' measures should be required by only a majority of the premises on the heating network.  For commercial schemes the applicants will be able to choose from a range of alternative methods to demonstrate their energy efficiency (e.g. Energy Performance Certificates, Display Energy Certificates and the Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method).
Sliding scale for district heating energy efficiency

Examples of energy efficiency measures required for RHI compliance

There are also some RHI Calls for evidence. These include large biomass heat (not CHP, over 1MWth), biopropane and landfill gas (closes on 18th October). Interestingly the question around large biomass relates to the previous reduction in support from 2.7p/kWh to 1p/kWh and the impact this has had on projects (according to the document around 50% of the large biomass projects being considered were cancelled when the tariff was reduced).

Fuelwood Open Day

Pride in Place - Tackling Incivilities

Issues such as vandalism, graffiti, litter, broken glass, cat and dog mess, dumped cars and uneven pavements can have a major impact upon well-being and quality of life. 

These incivilities can impact upon the extent to which people can appreciate and enjoy their local environment and take part in activities within this environment. They can influence how people perceive their local area and their feelings of safety within their community. They can affect people's connection and attachment to the places where they live.

Our Pride in Place - Tackling Incivilities project showcases eight local examples of where communities have taken action to address these problems within their area, and brought about positive change for citizens. 

Research by the Carnegie UK Trust highlights the tremendous success that these community-led projects have had and calls for more to be made available to enable more communities to address the environmental problems affecting their neighbourhood.  This policy report makes recommendations to local government, environmental charities and funders.

The eight case studies featured in the research include Bredhurst Woodland Action Group:

Civic Pride (Lancashire)
Clean Glasgow (Glasgow)
Llwynhendy Growing Spaces (Llanelli)
Redruth Brewery Leats (Cornwall)
Springhill Garden of Reflection (Belfast)
Tipton Litter Watch (West Midlands)
Urban Eye (London)

Healing Landscapes: trees and society twenty-five years on from the Great Storm

One day conference hosted by the Department of Geographical and Life Sciences, Canterbury Christ Church University.

Saturday 20th October 2012, from 10.00 in the Powell Building.

October 2012 is the 25th anniversary of the ‘Great Storm’ that toppled some 15 million trees in southern and SE England. 

This one day conference uses the anniversary to celebrate the legacy of the storm and the importance of trees to society, especially their impact on education, community, health and well-being.

The conference also celebrates the planting of the Jubilee Orchard at the Canterbury campus as part Canterbury Christ Church University’s 50th Jubilee celebrations. 

The orchard is part of the ‘Bioversity’ initiative to foster the green spaces of St Augustine's Abbey as part of the Canterbury World Heritage Site. The orchard is registered as part of the national NHS Forest.

The conference is open to all students and staff and to members of the public and registration is FREE. 

We need to know numbers for refreshments, seating, etc., so you MUST register with the Department of Geographical and Life Sciences.

To register for the conference please ring Jaimie Morris or Maria Hamilton on 01227 782331/782337 or email


10.00 Welcome and introduction

Session 1: Healed landscapes? Twenty-five years since the Great Storm

10.15-10.45 Releasing history – the Great storm and the history revealed.  
Andrew Richardson, Finds Manager, Canterbury Archaeological Trust.

10.45-11.15 The Great Storm - tree and fungi responses to the hurricane 
Ted Green, Ancient Tree Forum

11.15 – 11.35 Refreshment Break

11.35 – 12.05 The Great Storm and UK woodlands

12.05 – 12.35 Windthrow trees, Nature’s survivors: East Kent case studies 

12.35 – 13.25 LUNCH

Session 2: Healing landscapes – trees, society and well-being

13.25 – 13.55 Forest schools – saving our children from nature-deficit disorder
Clair Hobson Earthcraftuk, Kent / Executive Board Member of the Forest School Association

13.55 – 14.25 A sense of place - community woodlands as local resources
Jenny Tippen, Chair of Ashford Community Woodland

14.25 – 14.45 Refreshment Break

14.45 – 15.15 The Woodland Trust – ‘Creating woodland together’
John Harvey, Woodland Trust, Kent

15.15 – 15.45 England’s Community Forests – involvement, inclusion, environmental regeneration and green infrastructure creation
Ann Bartleet, Chair of Thames Chase Trust, Community Forests

15.45 – 16.00 End of conference.

Friday, 21 September 2012

Domestic RHI proposals announced

In keeping with the cautious nature of UK energy policy-making DECC has launched three new RHI consultations - a domestic RHI, expansion of the non-domestic RHI and introduction of renewable heat tariffs for air-to-water and energy-from-waste.

Of these the long awaited domestic RHI is of considerable interest to the biomass heating sector. It provides some clarity on the final scheme that should emerge during summer 2013 and is essential reading for consumers and installers alike.

Proposed domestic RHI timeline
This article aims to highlight the main points of the domestic RHI proposals in relation to biomass heating technologies.  It also provides links the consultation documents and summaries from other commentators which may help to provide a more rounded picture.

Lets start with the DECC introduction which provides a succinct summary of the 116 page document:
The consultation on proposals for a domestic scheme sets out  proposals for longer term support to householders who install renewable heating kit such as biomass boilers, air (to water) and ground source heat pumps and solar thermal into homes.
The RHI for householders is aimed at any householder looking to replace their current heating with renewable heating kit or householders who have installed any such technology since 15 July 2009 (n.b. whether or not these installations will be eligible for  support will be decided decided upon as a result of this consultation).
The more detailed introduction to the consultation goes a bit further:
  • The scheme is aimed at helping households replace their existing fossil fuel-based heating systems with renewable-based ones (<45 kWh/thermal).
  • Support is proposed for the installation of Microgeneration Certification Scheme (or equivalent) certified ground and air source heat pumps, biomass boilers and solar thermal panels.
  • The subsidy would be provided through tariff based payments over a seven year period.
  • Payments would be made on the basis of deemed amount of renewable heat generated with the rate paid varying according to the type of renewable technology installed.
  • The tariffs take into account the additional costs of installation and running the renewable system and non-financial barriers (such as disruption in the home). They also build in compensation on the additional upfront installation costs of 7.5% to cover the cost of financing.
  • The scheme will be for individual domestic properties and is open to all.
  • Provided that properties meet certain energy efficiency criteria (meaning a key interaction with the Green Deal), owner-occupiers and private landlords would be eligible, together with householders who have installed renewable heating systems since 15 July 2009, including those who received the Renewable Heat Premium Payment (RHPP).
  • There is consideration of bespoke tariffs for the registered social landlord and new build sectors, recognising their potential contribution to the roll-out of renewable heat, but taking into account the possible lower installation-related and other costs they might benefit from.
The devil, as they say, is in the detail and a more thorough read through is required to reveal the finer points. The main items of interest, as far as we are concerned and again relating primarily to biomass, are below. Don't forget that these are only proposals at this stage and the final result will depend on the feedback to the consultation:

  • The basic idea behind for a domestic RHI is that it is a boiler replacement scheme: It is designed to encourage those who would be looking to change their current fossil fuel boiler due to age and/or loss of efficiency.
  • The tariff could be paid over a timescale shorter than 20 years (e.g. 7 years) to appeal to consumers who plan and budget in a shorter time frame.
  • Tariff levels are set to be more financially advantageous to those homes off the gas grid, although the scheme will be open to any home in the UK.  However, the policy could be restricted to just those off the gas grid or focused at particular geographic areas.
Proposed domestic RHI tariff
  • Second homes are excluded from the scheme.
  • It is proposed that installations in rented properties be eligible for the RHI with the landlord as the recipient (providing the landlord is the owner of the heating system).
  • Consumers who installed renewable heat installations since 15 July 2009 will be eligible to apply for the domestic RHI provided they:
  • Have installed an eligible technology.
  • Meet the eligibility criteria on energy efficiency.
  • Declare any government funding or support already received for the installation of renewable heat.
  • Do not have a back up fossil fuel heating system, or if they do, are prepared or have installed a heat usage meter on which the RHI payments can be based.
  • Meet all current MCS standards.
  • Where these legacy applicants meet the eligibility criteria, any government funding already received will be subtracted from the amount of RHI payable to the householder and will be reflected in the payments received. A phased application process for legacy installations may be used to help manage applications.
  • Biomass-only boilers and biomass pellet stoves with back boilers will be eligible for the RHI provided they meet 99% of the peak space heating load of the property using the calculation methodologies in MCS.
  • Fuel sustainability criteria used for the non-domestic RHI will also apply to the domestic scheme.  This would entail consumers purchasing fuel from an approved supplier list.
  • As with biomass sustainability, the domestic RHI scheme takes the same approach regarding emissions limits and the tests to assess compliance as that set out in the recent consultation on the non-domestic scheme.
  • It is proposed that only biomass appliances that are on the HETAS approved list will be eligible for the RHI.
  • Stoves with back boilers (log or chip), room heater stoves and condensing biomass boilers and stoves are excluded from the scheme.
  • Individual homes would be eligible to apply only once during the lifetime of the scheme. In line with this, domestic RHI payments would be calculated on the assumption of one eligible technology meeting the deemed total space heating (not hot water) demand of the property.
  • The installation of multiple eligible renewable technologies under the domestic RHI be restricted to solar thermal in combination only (e.g. solar thermal and biomass).
  • In order to receive the domestic RHI, consumers would be required to have completed all 'green ticks' on their Green Deal assessment that relate to the thermal efficiency of the house.
Example of Green Deal 'green ticks'
  • The domestic RHI will be paid on the basis of ‘deemed’ heat with metering being only required for certain situations.  Deemed heat is the estimated annual heat load which would be obtained via an existing accepted measurement process (most likely SAP).
  • In the majority of cases consumers would be required to remove their existing fossil fuel heating systems in order to be eligible for the RHI.
  • For biomass boilers bivalent systems (i.e. biomass plus fossil fuel system) would not be allowed, except for electric immersion heaters for hot water and solar thermal, due to the risks involved around the consumer switching back after 7 years.
  • For legacy applicants we are proposing to allow bivalent systems if they have been installed and the heat load will be calculated based on metered readings.
  • Where pre-existing fossil fuel Rayburn range cookers are in place, we propose that these need not be removed but that the range cooker should be disconnected from the heating pipes and boiler, allowing the householder to continue to use the cooking facilities. These systems would not be taken into account in ensuring that the renewable system covers 100% of the heat load.
  • Where pre-existing Aga range cookers are in place, for safety reasons we propose that these could remain connected to the boiler but they should be disconnected from the radiators.
The consultation document can be found on the DECC website.  The deadline for responses is December 12th.


Here is a selection of early commentary on the consultation that may be of use in forming an overall opinion of what is being proposed:

Business Green
Greenwise Business

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

AECB Event: Insulating Old Buildings

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Survey of woodland owners – your views please!

The BritishWoodlands2012 survey is run by the Sylva Foundation and supported by Natural England. We'd also like to hear from farmers and other land managers who are considering creating woodland on their land.

The survey asks about motivations for woodland management, planting and support.

The survey builds on work that has been carried out by Cambridge University‟s Department of Land Economy on five occasions over the last 50 years. Their most recent survey report from 2005 provides some context for a current project entitled "Private Woods in Crisis?"

We hope the survey will help us to:

  • gauge the current level of sustainable forest management in British privately-owned woodlands
  • assess the potential for woodland creation
  • assemble evidence of the level of public benefits that are delivered from private woodlands
  • find out why some woods remain unmanaged
  • provide ideas to contribute to improvements in grants and to grow the domestic timber markets

The survey should take about 20-30 minutes to complete. All data will be treated with the utmost confidentiality. Results will be presented in an amalgamated version only and will be used to help inform us about how we can best support the woodland and forestry community.

People who take the survey will be invited to a woodland conference at Oxford University to be held in December 2012 at which the results of the survey will be discussed. 

The survey is supported by Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors, Forestry Commission, Woodland Trust, Natural England and the Institute for Chartered Foresters.

For further information contact

We are encouraging woodland owners, managers and agents to complete the new online questionnaire survey by 30 September 2012.

Monday, 10 September 2012

Job vacancy - community woodfuel

Community Wood Fuel Programme Manager for Oxfordshire

ORCC and TOE2 are looking to recruit a well-motivated and inspirational self-starter as a programme manager to develop and deliver a community woodfuel programme for Oxfordshire.

It contract is for one year for 3 days (21 hours) per week at a salary of £27,897 pro rota.

The post holder will support and guide local communities wishing to improve the biodiversity of Oxfordshire’s woodlands by encouraging better woodland management through increasing the use of wood fuel.

The project manager will identify and work with communities and develop a scalable model for community involvement in sustainable wood fuel production.

An ability to work independently and also in partnership with a range of other organisations and local communities in Oxfordshire is essential.

The post holder will be expected to work from home  and will report to the Oxfordshire Community Woodfuel Programme Steering Group.

Further details and an application form are available from or 01865 883488; electronic applications are preferred but hard copies are also available.

The job advert can be found on the ORCC website.

Closing date for applications: Monday 24 September 2012 at 5 p.m.

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Deer management - FREE workshop