Trade bodies have reacted with bewilderment at the decision by the Government to exclude anaerobic digestion facilities smaller than 5MW from the Renewables Obligation scheme.
The decision, revealed by the Department of Energy and Climate Change this week, was criticised by the Renewable Energy Association.
REA head of biogas David Collins said: “Recognising that anaerobic digestion can meet both energy and environmental objectives, the Coalition Agreement committed to ‘produce a huge increase in energy from waste through anaerobic digestion’. This ambition has now been all but dismantled.
“In the space of one week, AD has been squeezed from both sides. On Friday, it was revealed that the annual capacity threshold for AD up to 500kW is to be 4.5MW, which if breached will trigger a tariff reduction of 10 per cent. This would permit only nine to 15 typical plants to come through per year before the tariff is reduced. While unwelcome news, we took solace in the knowledge that up to 5MW AD projects could seek alternative support under the RO.
“The REA will fight hard to make the case for AD during the forthcoming consultation, as it meets a range of environmental objectives, has exceptional emissions displacement properties, and offers excellent diversification and job creation opportunities for the rural economy.”
ADBA chief executive Charlotte Morton said: “Degression was to be expected but the new proposal to prevent the vast majority of new plants from claiming ROCs from April 2013 will cause a shock in the AD and investment communities.
“Making such a change with little more than six months’ notice will hit projects already in development, as well as the business plans of companies looking to develop AD plants in the next few years.”
However, energy from waste business Energos welcomed the Government’s decision to reverse proposed changes to RO support for advanced conversion technologies (ACT).
Managing director Nick Dawber said: “This is a victory for common sense. By maintaining maximum support for all ACTs at two ROCs per MWh, both for new accreditations and existing schemes, the Government will help innovative businesses like Energos to bring to market best in class technologies. This will create an important renewable energy source while diverting non-recyclable residual waste from landfill.
“The Government has recognised that its comparisons of the efficiency of ACTs was not on a life-for-like basis and that steam cycle facilities, such as those developed by Energos have merit. Indeed, the ROC market will itself drive efficiency upwards, which is what Government seeks.
“Today’s decision provides investment certainty and gives the green light to our six shovel-ready projects, valued at £450 million and capable of diverting 650,000 tonnes of non-recyclable waste from landfill.”