BEIS and the Renewable Heat Incentive: Understanding Complex Applications


Pete Barbrook-Johnson

BEIS and the Renewable Heat Incentive: Understanding Complex Applications.

Since late 2017, Pete Barbrook-Johnson and Alex Penn at CECAN have been exploring how systems mapping might be applied in the evaluation of the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI).

Based on the Energy Act 2008, the RHI is a payment system for the generation of heat from renewable sources. It is designed to support households, businesses, public bodies and charities in transitioning from conventional forms of heating to renewable alternatives. The RHI is in the process of going through reforms, and an evaluation is currently underway of the reformed RHI, being led by CAG Consultants.

The aim of the case study is to apply participatory systems mapping to understand the causal and stakeholder relationships underpinning biomethane and biogas plant applications to the RHI, and their outcomes. These large plants are a particularly complex type of application to the scheme, and represent a significant part of the total monetary spend.

BEIS Case Study

Halfway through the mapping workshop held as part of this case study in May 2018

The systems mapping approach CECAN uses involves a variety of stakeholders collaboratively constructing a causal map of their system (i.e. identifying and connecting factors and their causal relations). The process of map construction has great value in building consensus and shared learning, and the final map itself is also exposed to a range of formal network analyses, cross-referenced with stakeholder views, being developed by CECAN.

The approach is particularly useful in this context as biomethane and biogas plants typically operate within a wider network of actors, stakeholders and beneficiaries. The mapping project is allowing BEIS to better understand the relationships between organisations, resources and other government schemes that drive decision making within these technologies.

In relation to the Evaluation of the Reformed RHI, this insight will support an exploration of the impact the RHI scheme has had on enabling installations (for whom and under what circumstances), and the impact the RHI has had on the biogas and biomethane supply chains. In relation to wider policy development, the mapping will also reveal any opportunities for policy intervention, for example by supporting improved outcomes for stakeholders across the system rather than just the technology operator.

This case study is ‘live’ at the time of writing (July 2018). More information coming soon.