Finn Geotherm responds to Public Accounts Committee RHI report


22 May 2018
Guy Ransom of Finn Geotherm
Guy Ransom, Commercial Director of Finn Geotherm, addresses what he regards as the key points from the report.
"We read with interest the findings from the Public Accounts Committee on the RHI, which have been covered in the media. As a heat pump company who has been designing and installing systems and dealing with RHI applications for 12 years, we wanted to address the key points.
"While it is accepted that heat pump systems are indeed more expensive than conventional boilers, it should be understood that they actually represent better value for money. As a heat pump will last more than three times as long as a boiler, it would be reasonable to expect that the initial cost would be three times as much. In fact, particularly for larger systems, the cost is far less than this. It should also be noted that approximately 60% of the total project cost of a ground source heat pump system relate to infrastructure works, which will remain virtually indefinitely – well beyond the time that the actual heat pump needs to be replaced. The replacement cost of a heat pump itself, after perhaps 30 years, will often be no more than a normal boiler. From the day it is commission, a heat pump system will deliver ongoing savings to the end user through lower heating costs and also lower maintenance costs. All of this should be taken note of, before accounting for the significant returns provided by the RHI itself.
"With any work undertaken at your home or business, there will be some disruption. However, this should not be a deterrent to new installations. If you are working with an expert installer, they will be able to tell you exactly what work needs to be completed and explain what it will involve. There should not be extended periods without heating or hot water if your installer has properly planned your installation.
"Leading heat pump manufacturers themselves, such as Lampoassa, already aim to make their systems as ‘hassle free’ as possible. Due regard is taken for the disruption and space required for installation, with many of the domestic Lampoassa systems being a simple single cabinet that will effectively deliver both heat and hot water without the requirement for an additional tank. All tappings are placed on the top of the machine, enabling pipe connections to be easily and neatly made. The systems are typically the same size as a fridge freezer.
"Heat pumps are one of the most environmentally friendly systems available on the RHI as, unlike biomass, they do not use any form of combustion. The only emissions are those relating to the electricity from the grid which is used to power them. Electricity in turn is becoming one of the cleanest forms of energy available and even then, a heat pump will generate 3.5kW of heat for every 1kW of electricity used.
"Finn Geotherm has submitted evidence to BEIS which has been shared in the public domain via the BEIS website regarding why we feel the uptake of RHI and heat pump installations have not been as high as expected. We believe the most significant factors holding back the use of heat pump systems to replace fossil fuel boilers and electric storage heaters are: a) uncertainty regarding the continuation of the RHI, which is restricting investment in the sector and causing specifiers and builders to be nervous that the incentive may be removed before a heat pump system is commissioned and registered b) too few high calibre heat pump companies in the UK, and particularly companies who are capable of designing and installing larger commercial systems and c) the perception that heat pump systems are expensive. We feel BEIS has shown it does not fully understand this industry as it is not able to provide more a credible argument for the low uptake or indeed help to increase the number of heat pump installations under the RHI scheme. The RHI and heat pumps could have a genuine impact on Clean Growth Strategy targets, if the great opportunity they present was taken more seriously.''
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