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AD caught between ROC and Pickles

The updates to renewable energy subsidies in England are generally good news for most. Last October’s consultation on the Renewables Obligation Certificate (ROC) subsidy banding proposed various reductions. In comparison, several energy from waste (EfW) technologies have actually seen their prospects improve in the final announcement.

Among them, EfW with combined heating and power will remain at the current 1 ROC level rather than dropping to 0.5 as proposed, while landfill gas levels are set at 0.2 ROCs for closed sites despite a proposed cut to 0 ROCs. 

These adjustments show that government is listening to the informed views of the ESA and others.

The picture is less rosy for AD. Earlier this month Defra’s AD action plan trumpeted growth of AD. The report pulled out key highlights from the past year, including improvements for small scale AD plants through Feed-in Tariffs scheme subsidies.

If that were a step forward, the ROC review was a step back: the review puts a stop to RO subsidies for AD projects under 5MW. This may well affect market confidence.

To compound matters, the government is dragging its heels on action to discourage the sending of food waste to landfill – a ban remains unlikely, with Defra preferring to leave local authorities to lead (and fund) the change.

Yet applications to Eric Pickles’ weekly bin fund show significant interest from councils in food collections. It remains to be seen if such bids will receive funding. Pickles could yet be an unlikely knight in shining armour.

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