Non-Domestic Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI)

The Non-Domestic Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) was the world’s first long-term financial support programme for renewable heat. RHI was a UK government scheme that paid participants who generated and used renewable energy to heat their buildings. The government expected the RHI to make a significant contribution towards meeting targets for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and the effects of climate change.

Non-domestic RHI was open to commercial, industrial, public sector, not for profit and heat networks from November 2011 until 31st March 2021. The scheme was designed to bridge the gap between the cost of fossil fuel heat installations and renewable heat alternatives through financial support for owners.

The non-domestic Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) helped meet the cost of installing renewable heat technologies for businesses, public sector and non-profit organisations. These included, for example, businesses, hospitals, schools, and district heating schemes such as in the case of where one boiler serves multiple homes.

Payments were based on the heat output of your system and continued for 20 years from the date of accreditation.

Non-Domestic RHI Eligibility

To take part in the Non-Domestic Renewable Heat Incentive scheme, your installation at your business or organisation had to meet Ofgen’s eligibility criteria.

Key eligibility criteria (original)

  • applicant must be the owner of the installation
  • equipment installed and first commissioned on or after 15 July 2009
  • air to water heat pumps, biogas installations with a capacity of more than 200kW and solid biomass CHP installations must be commissioned on or after 4 December 2013
  • equipment new at time of purchase
  • if a grant from public funds has been received, it generally needs to be repaid in most circumstances (refer to the guidance for more information)
  • medium of heat transfer must be liquid or steam, ie no direct air heating
  • installation must be MCS or equivalent EN45011 or ISO 17065 accredited if installed capacity is 45kWth or under – a requirement for solid biomass, heat pumps and solar thermal
  • the metering arrangements must be correct– the right type of meters calibrated and placed in correct locations
  • you can’t use the equipment to only heat a single domestic home

(From Ofgem’s Easy Guide to the Non-domestic RHI)

Rules introduced later in the scheme:

  • you cannot claim RHI to heat a swimming pool unless it’s open to the public (new installations)
  • you cannot claim RHI to dry wood fuel (new installations)
  • you cannot claim RHI to dry waste for landfill (new installations)
  • if you heat a domestic house and use the fact it is coupled with a business in order to claim non domestic RHI, the business must use more than 50% of the heat generated by the biomass installation

Note from the editor:

For a government supposedly encouraging us to use renewable heat, they have made it progressively more difficult for us to do so.

Domestic RHI was launched 9 April 2014 and is open to homeowners, private landlords, social landlords and self-builders up until 31st March 2022. It will then be replaced by the Boiler Upgrade Scheme, which pays a one off grant of £5,000.