Biomass Sustainability Requirements

Sustainability criteria for the Dobsl_logomestic Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) have been introduced by the Department of Energy and Climate Change to ensure all installations using biomass fuels meet the government’s environmental objectives. Consumers receiving Domestic RHI payments for biomass stove or boiler installations, or those thinking of applying for the scheme, will need to meet these sustainability requirements from 5 October 2015. This means using an approved sustainable fuel from a supplier listed on the Biomass Suppliers List.

A bit of history…

At the launch of the RHI in November 2011, there were no mandatory sustainability criteria for solid biomass used for heat generation. However, The Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) were concerned that without some criteria ensuring that the lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions of biomass are below a defined level, the RHI could:

  • Be subsidising unsustainable biomass that delivers little or no carbon savings on a life -cycle basis; and
  • Sometimes lead to even higher emissions relative to heat from fossil fuels.

To protect against this, they included standardising the July 2013 Domestic RHI policy documentation ensure biodiversity and other environmental impacts are protected, as well as contributing to DECC’s legally binding target to supply 15% of total energy consumption from renewable sources by 2020. These standards were then included in the Domestic Renewable Heat Incentive Regulation Amendments 2015.

The Biomass Suppliers List was launched on the 30th April 2014 and it covers four types of wood fuel: pellets, briquettes, wood chip and firewood (logs). Consumers can search for accredited suppliers using the website search at Additional search filters allow consumers to search by accreditation, including Woodsure and Enplus.

Suppliers can register for free at

Self Supply?

Consumers using logs or other waste wood from their own property as fuel in their biomass boiler can register on the BSL as a self-supplier. This is free to do and means they will be provided with their own personal fuel authorisation number (format BSL-1234567-1234) which they will be asked to provide each year as part of the ‘annual declaration’. Consumers who mainly use wood from their own property, but occasionally buy roundwood (or other raw wood) from another source to process can also register on the BSL, but as a ‘producer-trader’.

To find out more visit the BSL Consumer FAQ page or contact the BSL Helpdesk on 020 7090 7769 or email

For Biomass Sustainability FAQ’s click here.

The Domestic RHI: Case Studies

Pellets on FireJust eleven months into the Domestic Renewable Heat Incentive, 25,000 renewable heating systems have been accredited to receive Domestic RHI payments. Ofgem has produced some case studies based on successful RHI applicants. Highlighted here are some of the applicants who are enjoying the benefits of their new biomass systems. You can view these case studies and more on the Ofgem website by clicking here.

Andrew King | Lincoln

We have a detached house in a semi-rural location in Lincolnshire that is off the mains gas grid. Our space and hot water heating was provided by a combination of E7 storage heaters and a few radiators upstairs running on a central heating system powered by bottled LPG. Fuel costs were very high but we were still cold. We looked at a variety of heating types, and in the end we decided to remove the storage heaters and install a wood pellet boiler in a purpose built external boiler house. New wireless heating controls and a thermostat were also installed to run the system. After building the boiler house, the installation of the new boiler had minimal intrusion on the house I’ve had the system installed for nearly a year now, it is simple to operate and will have used 4 tonnes of pellets at a cost of approximately £1000. This has reduced my heating and hot water costs by over 50% with a carbon neutral fuel and we are actually warm as we can afford to have the heating on now. I heard about the Domestic RHI from a colleague at work who was looking to replace his oil fired boiler.

The Domestic RHI application process was simple as it used the data directly from the certificates provided, greatly reducing the amount of information I needed to put in as it already knew my heating requirements.

I regularly recommend biomass boilers to anyone on oil or LPG and have shown several people my installation and explained the Domestic RHI process and basic requirements to them.

Martin Thomson | Cornwall

In spring 2013 we made the decision to look for an alternative to our existing gas boiler which had become totally uneconomic and ineffective. To heat the property to an acceptable standard had become unaffordable. Thoughts of a renewable source of heating were not at the front of our minds but a chance comment made by a friend caused us to investigate. We contacted a local installer with whom we had a very good relationship and after many quotations, meetings, researching and, yes, doubts we decided to install a wood pellet boiler, along with the necessary changes to the hot water system. Whilst we had suffered from those very real initial doubts we were quickly able to put them to one side as the pellet boiler gave us superb levels of heat and delivered it all day for a cost very similar to the miserly times offered by the original bulk gas installation. We are currently enjoying very affordable all day heating. We were more than pleased that we could submit a claim for the Domestic RHI payments through an online process. For someone with a working life embracing ICT and systems development I was apprehensive at the thought of having to make such an online application. To my great surprise the entire process, from website guidance to physically making the online application was absolutely superb.

It was a breath of fresh air and demonstrated the full potential of a truly integrated online system. All information, as entered, is checked in real time and by the time I had completed the online process an email was already in my inbox with my offer… truly stunning!

To this day I shake my head in disbelief . . . but it certainly was true! Reviewing now, as we start 2015 we have been delighted with our wood pellet boiler installation, our installer, and the seven year Government support, via Ofgem and the Domestic RHI.

REA RHI Roadshow

Renewable Energy AssociationThe Renewable Energy Association (REA) will be running a series of seminars to explain how the domestic Renewable Heat Incentive can help you, whether you are a company planning to supply or install the eligible technologies, a building service engineer, a social landlord, a heating consultant or anyone wandering exactly how the scheme works.

How can the Renewable Heat Incentive benefit my business? (Birmingham)

This seminar takes place in Birmingham on Wednesday 25th June and will be followed by a number of regional events, with dates to be announced.

Everything you need to know about the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI):

  • How it works?
  • What systems are eligible?
  • What are the business opportunities and a whole lot more . . .

The introduction of the domestic Renewable Heat Incentive on 9th April 2014 for the first time allows householders to be paid for generating heat from renewable sources. As a result we expect a significant upturn in the demand for renewable heat systems leading to a rapid expansion of the supply chain.

The first REA event will take place in Birmingham where you will learn key aspects of the policy including an overview of the technologies covered and how the policy will support their growth.

Speakers include those implementing the scheme from DECC, Ofgem, MCS and RECC as well as industry experts who will be highlighting the opportunities and sharing their insights into what the policy means for the sector.

This event is a must for anybody active in the renewable heat sector, equipment suppliers and their supply chain, heat appliance installers, building energy consultants, social landlords and anyone else who is thinking about the new opportunities the scheme provides.


09.30 – 10.00 Registration
10.00 – 10.10 Introduction Mike Landy, REA
10.10 – 10.30 Overview of and background to the Domestic RHI Lucy Longstaff, DECC
10.30 – 10.55 The RHI application procedure. Ofgem’s role and guidance Keith Horgan, Ofgem
10.55 – 11.10 Changes to MCS to accommodate the Domestic RHI (standards, compliance certificates, competency requirements, size limits, etc.) Gideon Richard, MCS
11.10 – 11.20 Open discussion / questions
11.20 – 11.40 Break
11.40 – 12.05 Opportunities for biomass and heat pumps in the Domestic RHI David Rae, Innasol
12.05 – 12.25 Opportunities for solar thermal in the Domestic RHI Stuart Elmes, Viridian
12.25 – 12.45 Ensuring protection for the Domestic RHI consumer Virginia Graham, RECC
12.45 – 13.00 Open discussion / questions
13.00 – 13.30 Lunch

Costings are as follows:

REA Members £150 + VAT
RECC Members £170 + VAT
REA Non Members £200 + VAT

You can book online now or download a booking form on the REA website.

REA was established in 2001 as a not-for-profit trade association, representing British renewable energy producers and promoting the use of renewable energy in the UK. REA helps our members build commercially and environmentally sustainable businesses whilst increasing the contribution of renewable energy to the UK’s electricity, heat, transport and green gas needs. Find out more by visiting the REA website.

RHI Emissions Certificates

RHI EC ListIn March 2011 the Government published its policy for the non-domestic Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI), including the intention to introduce air quality emission limits for biomass boilers (including CHP) that participate in the scheme. Proposed limits were first published for consultation in 2010. These limits were confirmed with the maximum permitted emissions being 30 grams per gigajoule (g/GJ) net heat input for particulate matter and 150g/GJ for NOx.

To be eligible for both the domestic and non-domestic schemes, biomass products must comply with emissions limits as outlined above. Evidence of compliance must be in the form of a vaild emissions certificate. Alternatively, for the non-domestic RHI, an environmental permit for the site is allowed.

A dedicated website of products that are covered by RHI emissions certificates is now available at The website is administered by HETAS. Contact HETAS for further guidance on Air Quality Requirements and EC-Listing on or call 01684 278170.

Ofgem, the scheme administrator for both the domestic and non-domestic RHI has produced a template emissions certiifcate which can be used for both schemes, but will be assessed separately against the requirement of each scheme. These templates are available at Alternatively, contact HETAS for further guidance.

If your product is not already covered by a vaild RHI emissions certifcate you should:

  1. View the template certificate and read the guidance –
  2. Arrange for an authorised testing laboratory to perform the required assessment of your product
  3. Ensure the testing laboratory completes the template emissions certificate in accordance with the guidance set out on it

With the domestic RHI due to be launched over the coming week the Department of Energy & Climate Change, Ofgem and HETAS are urging manufacturers to get their certificates sorted now. At present, only around 25 manufacturers have their appliances listed on the RHI EC website. Please contact HETAS for further guidance on Air Quality Requirements and EC-Listing on or call 01684 278170.


Is your insurance ready for the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI)?

You may have read Greg Barker’s “tweet” announcing the long awaited launch of the Domestic Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI). The launch is due to go ahead this Easter and is set to have a resounding effect on the heating industry.

Are you thinking of diversifying your business to become installers of biomass systems by going through the Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS) accreditation? If so, then you’ll have a mixture of technical knowledge and practical confidence to provide householders with the advice they need to take informed decisions about entering into the Domestic RHI. As such, there are several aspects of insurance cover that you need to keep in mind.

In addition to the usual Public and Employer’s Liability insurances then you must ensure that your Professional Indemnity (PI) cover is adequate and up to date.

As MCS installers, your work centres on offering advice and providing reports.  Should any calculations or recommendations you provide be incorrect you could suffer serious financial consequences if you lack the correct levels of insurance cover. Typical tradesmen insurance policies may not automatically include professional indemnity cover. If this is the case then you need to make sure that you have a sufficient level of cover in place separately. Its key here to ensure this extends to include feasibility studies and calculations as these are the main risks you’re likely to encounter. We recommended that you set at least a £500,000 limit on your policy to cover.

You won’t qualify for the Domestic RHI without having undertaken a Green Deal Assessment in the first place, so if you are undertaking Green Deal Assessments then you must make sure you have the correct professional indemnity insurance in place. Likewise if you partner with a Green Deal Assessor, to undertake the assessment, then they will need to have their own professional indemnity insurance.

For more information on professional indemnity insurances or to request a quotation please contact HETAS Insurance Services or call the team on 08455 085 734.