‘Renewable Heat Incentive scheme must be fast-tracked’

The establishment of the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) scheme must be fast-tracked in order for it to be in play in the first quarter of next year, according to the Irish Farmers’ Association’s (IFA’s) Renewables Chairman, James Murphy.

Murphy outlined that, while farmers are very interested in getting involved in the scheme, certainty and clarity on the details of the scheme are needed.

Reassurances that the scheme is going to be implemented in the short-term are required to harness the interest that is out there at the moment, he added.

Recent confirmation from the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and the Environment, Denis Naughten, that the RHI will be exchequer funded was welcomed by Murphy.

The news that biomass, anaerobic digestion, heat pumps, solar thermal, and geothermal energy will be eligible for support under the scheme was also very positive, he added.

“The proposed 15-year contracts and tiered payment rates based on metered heat produced should give the certainty to those who choose to participate.

“It is important that the minister makes good on his commitment to announce details of the scheme within the next month,” Murphy said.

He explained that the IFA has engaged with the minister and his department on the measures that are required to ensure the RHI scheme is workable for farmers.

Measures sought by the IFA:
  • A percentage of the RHI budget should be ring-fenced for agricultural and community-based projects;
  • A minimum technology standard should apply;
  • Successful applicants under the RHI who installed renewable heating systems prior to July 2014 should be eligible;
  • There should be a requirement to show an economically-justifiable heating need;
  • A minimum duration of support for 15 years, with the price linked to an Energy Index be introduced.

Speaking at the Energy in Agriculture event in Gurteen Agricultural College in August, Minister Naughten said: “We hope to bring a proposal to cabinet on the RHI scheme in the next couple of weeks.

“I think it’s a tangible and viable measure to stimulate the growth of our domestic biomass market.”