New regulations have come into force which require that all recipients of the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) provide evidence that their biomass boilers have been serviced at a minimum annually by a business accredited by the HETAS Approved Biomass Maintenance Scheme.
The Scheme, which has been introduced by the Department for Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) is administered by HETAS, sets a standard for biomass servicing and maintenance to promote best practice throughout the industry.
We caught up with our Group Chief Operating Officer, Bruno Berardelli, who was part of the industry-wide working group which helped develop the Approved Biomass Maintenance Scheme. We asked Bruno to tell us more about the initiative and the implications for owners of non-domestic RHI accredited biomass boilers.
Why does the biomass industry need an Approved Biomass Maintenance Scheme?
The Approved Biomass Maintenance Scheme sets a benchmark for biomass service and maintenance and the new regulation that owners of non-domestic RHI registered boilers are properly serviced at least once a year.
The Scheme was inspired by independent research commissioned by BEIS into the performance of biomass boilers in 2019. The report by KIWA identified beyond a doubt that regular maintenance would increase the efficiency of the boiler and reduce harmful emissions. It stressed the importance of properly qualified engineers, familiar with the intimate workings of biomass boilers servicing them.
How has the biomass heat industry been involved in the development of the Scheme? Is the Scheme a positive development for biomass heat businesses?
I was part of an industry-led working group which looked at the requirements of the Scheme and the mechanics of how it would work. It was important that the Scheme was beneficial for both boiler owners and biomass service provider businesses.
The Scheme has only recently launched and inevitably some parts of it are still being worked out, but the fundamental principles underpinning it are very good. For service provider businesses, the accreditation raises industry standards and becomes a benchmark that demonstrates credibility to customers. For biomass boiler owners the initiative provides confidence in their service company and the quality of the service and maintenance they are paying for. In summary setting a standard for biomass maintenance is good news for boiler owners and for industry.
What are the benefits of the Scheme for RHI recipients?
The initiative provides participants of the RHI with reassurance that their boilers are being maintained at a good standard by qualified engineers. As regular service and maintenance can help prevent boiler issues, the standard set by the Scheme should also help boost boiler performance and efficiency.
Accreditation is not only about meeting the service and maintenance criteria, but the registration process also looks at a business’ HSEQ standards and Quality Management System. Therefore, the Scheme also provides biomass boiler owners with peace of mind about the type of organisations they are working with.
What do boiler owners have to do to comply with the Scheme and to ensure continued RHI payments?
Recipients of the RHI must have annual maintenance carried out by a business accredited by the Scheme. Implementation of the regulations became effective in April 2022. Ofgem will likely start mandating evidence from RHI participants in 2023, however they can ask for this at any time.
To comply with the new Scheme, you also need to demonstrate and record that the maintenance has been completed. Meeting these two requirements will ensure that RHI payments continue as normal.
Is an annual service and maintenance visit enough to ensure the best biomass boiler performance?
Regular maintenance is the best way to ensure your boiler performs at its best, which in turn minimises downtime and maximises your RHI payments.
Every biomass boiler is different and the number of services per year depends on your heat requirements and your installation.
AMP offers a range of Service and Maintenance plans which are tailored to each individual organisation. For most of our customers we recommend a biannual service plan but for other customers with larger installations, we may suggest more planned maintenance. All our plans include reactive support for your boiler and access to a technical support desk.
How does AMP ensure its engineers are best in class?
AMP has a proven track record in biomass service and maintenance and we have one of the largest networks of specialist engineers in Great Britain. We were already meeting the criteria for the Approved Biomass Maintenance Scheme and we aim to go above and beyond that benchmark.
We invest a great deal of time and resource into ensuring that our biomass engineers are best in class. For example, in 2020 we contracted KIWA to help us develop an online biomass learning portal for our engineers. We also provide training on a range of topics including management, customer service, HSEQ, engineering and more bespoke courses like working in confined spaces. Our engineers make regular visits to manufacturer’s facilities such as Gilles and Froling in Austria to gain first-hand experience from the expertise that exists there.
The retention rate amongst our team of engineers is very high which I think is a reflection of the professionalism of our Service and Maintenance team and the services we provide.