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Is your Biomass Boiler still compliant?

View profile for Amy Clarkson
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Many owners of biomass boilers are unaware that there are ongoing obligations that must be complied with in order to continue to receive RHI payments. Even if the biomass boiler was installed correctly and you received confirmation of accreditation, you must continue to ensure that the system is compliant with current legislation and the penalties for failing to comply could have a significant financial impact.

Why is this important?

Ofgem is carrying out strict and rigorous audits of biomass installations to check whether a system is compliant with the rules and also to detect fraud. If a system fails the audit, not only could the RHI payments be stopped but Ofgem can also claim back huge percentages of RHI payment if the heat is found to have been ineligible.

Ofgem states that it can select anyone for an audit check at any time and the number of audit checks seems to have increased significantly in recent years. In addition, the high non-compliance rate indicates that Ofgem is certainly tightening up on adherence with the obligations and even if your system was fully compliant on installation, current legislation is being imposed retrospectively. This means that you need to ensure that the equipment and your use of the installation continues to comply with up to date legislation, otherwise you could fail an Ofgem audit.

Therefore, even though non-compliance may well be unintentional, it could clearly have a significant financial impact.

Common examples of breaches are:

  • Lack of evidence of planning permission. Make sure you have proof to hand in readiness for an audit. If you did not obtain planning permission, make sure you apply retrospectively as soon as possible. If you do no think that planning was required for your installation, ensure you obtain proof of the exemption from your local planning department.
  • Using heat for non-eligible purposes
  • Using non-compliant equipment
  • Failing to comply with ongoing obligations, such as heat losses not being accounted for properly, a lack of good or accurate fuel records, meter readings and periodic data submission errors
  • External pipework not properly declared

What do the audits check?

Some of the areas that the audit is likely to check are:

  • Inspecting the system to ensure that it matches the description and schematic of the installation on the original RHI Accreditation submission
  • Proof that the boiler is the original approved, with the same boiler plate
  • Copies of all fuel invoices, to enable Ofgem to calculate the potential kW of heat available from the fuel and to verify this by the reading on the heat meter
  • Evidence that all fuel used has met the standard required by the boiler manufacturer and complies with the fuel specified on the boiler emissions certificate, including moisture content
  • Inspecting external pipework to ensure that it is insulated correctly
  • Ensuring that all pipework is positioned and sized in accordance with the approved original schematic
  • Proof of annual servicing of the boiler
  • Ensuring that the meters, sensors and integrator show the same serial numbers as per the original approval
  • All buildings being heated in any way must be permanent structures and must be capable of being sealed when heated.

If you have any concerns regarding your installation and would like further information, please call us and speak to a solicitor within our specialist Agricultural law department here at Crombie Wilkinson.