The second phase of the Support Scheme for Renewable Heat (SSRH) – which will provide operational support for biomass boilers and anaerobic digestion heating systems – has been opened by Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment, Richard Bruton today, Tuesday, June 4.

Making the announcement Minister Bruton said: “If we are to cut greenhouse gases, we must replace fossil fuels by renewable sources.

“This scheme is designed to replace fossil fuel heating systems by heat pumps and by heat from biomass or anaerobic digestion. These are sustainable and renewable sources.”

“The scheme will include important protections to ensure that the heat supported is sustainable, used for useful purposes and represents value for money for the taxpayer,” the minister said.

Over the lifetime of the scheme, the successful delivery of this programme can reduce carbon emissions by 11Mt – a significant contribution to meeting our emissions reduction targets.

With applications opening today, this round of the scheme will support businesses and farms for up to 15 years for the installation and on-going use of biomass and anaerobic digestion heating systems.

The scheme is designed to support up to 1,300GWh of renewable heat per year (equivalent to the heating needs of circa 120,000 homes).

Overall, the projects supported will increase the renewable heat use in Ireland by three percentage points and decrease emissions in the non-ETS sector by approximately 300,000t of CO2 per year.

The scheme has integrated lessons learned from other similar schemes in other jurisdictions and, as a result, includes detailed eligibility and budgetary controls, according to the Department of Communications, Climate Action and the Environment.

The Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) will administer the scheme.

Jim Gannon, CEO of SEAI, commenting on the launch said: “Across Europe, heating remains one of the most challenging areas in which to achieve carbon emission reductions.

“This scheme is a vital component part of the Government’s overall policy framework to decarbonise heat.

“SEAI is looking forward to delivering the scheme efficiently and effectively, mobilising the marketplace while maintaining a keen focus on value for public moneys.”

The first phase of the SSRH, an installation grant for heat pumps, opened in September 2018 and supports ground, air and water source electric heat pump installations with grant-aid up to 30% of the capital outlay.

Under Project Ireland 2040, the National Development Plan sets out an allocation of €300 million for the rollout of the scheme for the period up to 2027.

The Support Scheme for Renewable Heat (SSRH) will support commercial, industrial, agricultural and other non-domestic heat users to adopt renewable heating systems.

The tariffs have been calculated to compensate the difference between renewable technologies and the fossil fuel counterfactual, i.e. natural gas.

Existing biomass or biogas installations will not be eligible for support under the SSRH. This is in line with State aid rules which provide that projects will only be eligible for support if they apply for aid before work on the project starts.

There are eligibility criteria that projects must continue to conform to over the period of support, up to 15 years, according to the Department of Communications, Climate Action and the Environment.

These criteria will ensure that heat generated is applied to useful, economically justified purposes only, the department says.

In addition, there are a number of budget management mechanisms to ensure value for money for the exchequer. These include project budget caps, an annual budget cap for the scheme, annual reviews of the tariffs offered to new applicants and periodic tariff reviews to prevent windfall gains.

Full details of the Support Scheme for Renewable Heat including the tariff levels, terms and conditions and how to apply are available on SEAI’s website.