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A Biomass Perspective on the RHI

The long awaited domestic part of the Renewable Heat Incentive has finally launched in the UK and with it comes a multitude of opportunities for homeowners to gain sustainable technology for their home as well as financial reward. One such sustainable system is biomass boilers and this blog is focused on looking in detail at the features of the scheme in relation to biomass and woodfuel and the possibilities it offers to homeowners. If you are interested in finding our about other parts of the scheme read our blog here or visit the Department of Energy and Climate Change website.

The new domestic part of the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) covers biomass systems, meaning you can use woodfuel to heat your home. The systems covered on the scheme are:

  • Biomass boilers (you will burn wood pellets, wood chips or logs.
  • Biomass pellet stove with back boilers.

In the beginning stage of the RHI, condensing biomass boilers will not be eligible for financial support but this has the potential to change as this technology is evaluated in the future.

Your biomass installation will need to be to be reviewed under the Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS) and this will limit your biomass system to under 45kW. This leaves a gap between the domestic and non-domestic schemes.

What are the specific facts about biomass with the RHI?

Here are the key elements of the scheme:

  • Biomass systems have a tariff rate of 12.2 pence per kilowatt hour.
  • Single domestic dwellings are eligible.
  • Your home does not need to be off the gas grid.
  • Once your project is accredited, you will receive a tariff paid for seven years.
  • Each project must have a Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS) certificate.
  • You are eligible for the RHI if your biomass system was installed after July 15 2009.
  • If you received a Renewable Heat Premium Payment (RHPP), that total will be taken off your total tariff from the RHI.
  • The estimates given with your Energy Performance Certificate will help to deem the heat generated by your biomass boiler.
  • Applicants must have had a Green Deal Assessment (GDA) and your property must have sufficient loft and wall insulation.
  • The following are considered applicants: owner occupiers, private landlords, Registered Social Landlords (RSLs) and third-party owners.
  • If your biomass system was fitted before March 31, 2014 you are eligible for an RHPP of 2,000.
  • The Green Deal offers a loan to help homeowners pay for their systems with the money saved on their energy bills.


If you apply to the RHI scheme for a biomass system you will be required to prove that your biomass fuel is produced sustainably. The rules here have been somewhat relaxed from the original requirements. For example, you can now use woodfuel produced on your own land including existing woodland and energy crops. It is not yet permitted to sell fuel to other biomass households in the area though this may change for small suppliers.

If you can’t source woodfuel from your own land, you will need to find an approved supplier from a list provided by the RHI scheme. Approved suppliers will need to:

  • Supply fuel which conforms to the greenhouse gas (GHG) lifecycle emissions target of reaching 60% GHG savings against the EU fossil fuel heat average.
  • Be able to give a report regarding the sustainability performance based on the type of woodfuel being used.

Air Quality

The RHI scheme also has limits regarding the maximum amount of emissions from particular pollutants. Systems must not exceed:

  • 30g per gigajoule of particulate matter or dust.
  • 150g per gigajoule for oxides of nitrogen NOx.

This is possible with most MCS accredited boilers with wood pellets, wood chips and logs. Other boilers may require a ceramic filter to meet the standards. Projects installed after July 15 2009 and before the scheme began in April 2014 will not need to meet these requirements.

Have you installed or thought about installing a biomass boiler? Has it been a success? Any issues to share? Let us know below in comments section or connect with us on Facebook and/or Twitter.

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