Although we all knew this was inevitable the announcement today, by the Enterprise, Trade and Investment Minister, Jonathan Bell, of his intention to close the domestic and non-domestic Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) schemes will still come as a shock and a big blow to the Renewable Energy sector.

Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI)

Commenting on his decision the Minister said: ‘It is with great reluctance that I have had to announce my intention to close both RHI schemes. Both schemes have been very successful with the non domestic scheme in particular seeing significant uptake during the last 12 months and more so in the run up to the recent scheme changes introduced in November 2015. It is estimated that around 6% of NI’s heating needs are now provided through renewable technologies. The Executive’s target to achieve 4% renewable heat has been exceeded.

“However, this increased demand means the available budget for new applications has been exhausted. To meet RHI commitments for existing installations, significant levels of additional funding will have to be found from within the NI Executive’s budget for the next five years to address the current deficit. To prevent further overspend I must bring forward legislation to the Assembly to close both schemes to new applications.

“My Department will also be carrying out a comprehensive review and audit, to ensure that the operation of the schemes is strictly in compliance with the scheme requirements and the underpinning legislation.”