If you’re claiming non-domestic biomass RHIs, you could get an audit visit from Ofgem, the government’s energy market regulator. Ofgem say that they have rigorous systems in place for the prevention, detection and investigation of non-compliance cases.
Most owners of biomass installations are not expert in the small print of biomass RHI regulations. However, it is important to have at least an outline knowledge, so you know when to call in specialist help.
On their website, Ofgem say that ‘anyone can be selected for an audit check at any time.’ In fact, there are clear indications that Ofgem is beginning to increase their auditing activity.
Why do Ofgem carry out audits?
The Ofgem website gives two reasons:
- To make sure that RHI claimants are following the rules
- To detect fraud: usually involving failing to report a change in circumstances or overinflating RHI claims, for example by submitting false heat meter readings.
What do Ofgem check?
Here are some of the key areas Ofgem are likely to check:
- An overall inspection of the installation to verify 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, enabling Ofgem to calculate the potential kW of heat available from the fuel and to be able to check that this can be verified 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
- All external above ground pipework to be insulated as per the specification shown in the original Heat Loss Assessment (HLA)
- All pipework positioning and sizing as per the approved original schematic
- Proof of annual servicing of the boiler
- No additional heat demand points other than as shown on the schematic or that have been added after the original RHI accreditation date with Ofgem’s approval – proof of approval would need to be available and not a claim of ‘word of mouth’ approval
- Meters, sensors and integrator showing same serial numbers as per original approval, unless changes have been authorised by Ofgem – again, proof would need to be available
- All buildings being heated in any way, whether a house, swimming pool, drying floor, workshop, etc, must be permanent structures (not plastic poly tunnels for example), and must be capable of being sealed when heated.
- Drying floors should have the hot damp air removed by means of extractor fans, or by roof vents operated by humidistats.
This list is not exhaustive and there may be other checks that the auditors will carry out.
Even when there is no suggestion of fraud, Ofgem can stop a claimant’s RHI payments. Therefore, it’s vital to ensure that you are following Ofgem’s rules. Examples of breaching the rules include:
- Using non-compliant equipment
- Using heat for non-eligible purposes
- Failing to comply with ongoing obligations, such as submitting periodic meter readings.
Biomass RHI advice line – 01437 761320
If you have any questions about compliance with biomass RHI regulations, we’d be happy to answer your questions. We have over 10 years’ experience in the biomass industry and our team has been involved in more than 1,000 biomass installations.