The Problem of Spotting an RHI Application Peak

Over the last couple of weeks, there have been many comments from officials and political representatives about the RHI spike in the 10 weeks from early September 2015 to November 2015. 

Continually quoted is that 984 applications out of 1,946 came in during this three month period and that this spike was unprecedented and impossible to predict!  Was it really?

The GB RHI has tiering and degression. This means there has been continuous review and adjustment to the rates paid to renewable heat generation.  Surely it would have been a good idea to check how the GB market reacted at each change in tariff announcement?

Luckily GB are very open about their RHI data and publish everything.  Below is a table showing when changes were announced, when they will apply, what technologies are affected and the rate changes.

This tariff table is compared with the spikes in the applications to the GB RHI scheme in the graph below. The cumulative applications are shown in red and the month by month applications shown in blue.

The peaks clearly correlate with the month before the new tariffs are applied.  A rate change was proposed in NI on July 15 internally in the department.

By this stage, GB had 8 significant tariff changes with corresponding peaks in applications.  Most noticeably December 2014 when there was a spike in applications 10 times that of the month before!  Did the AME fog hide these 8 peaks?

  • Brian Walker

    Good question – why didn’t they adopt the UK system? Just to show devolution n can be different?. It’s like an Alice in Wonderland electricity monopoly. The inquiry must unearth more answers than the PAC so far.

  • GEF

    Ms Foster stated yesterday in the Assembly the reason NI did not (adopt the UK system) “In GB, the main obstacle to the growth of renewable heat was, and is, the wide availability of affordable natural gas. Here, the main heating fuel is oil, and the 4 gas market is relatively immature.”

    “Full Arlene Foster statement to Assembly over RHI debacle”

    The suspended DUP MLA Jonathan Bell has added more to the: “RHI scandal: (Department releases ‘critical’ email following Jonathan Bell demand)

    “Crucial RHI email proves Arlene Foster was told of abuse in 2013|”

  • Granni Trixie

    But Brian this is THE question everyone here has been asking Arlene/DUP with no satisfactory answers so far. Maybe this kind of thing helps explain why people are not tending not to suspend judgement until they have more information.

  • 2000 BC

    In no way is the presence of a limited gas market a satisfactory, or even logical, explanation for not including cost controls as part of what was a scheme largely copied wholesale.

    In fact, if follows from the intrinsic cost saving that oil to wood pellet conversion presents over gas to wood pellets that it is actually less necessary to make the offer look so attractive.

    It was already cutting out the need to have a gas network supply (good). Why make it more generous?