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Decc AD expectations questioned

Small scale AD plant

Ministers’ expectation of growth for the anaerobic digestion (AD) sector has been called into question by the green energy industry.

The Renewable Energy Association (REA) has questioned predictions from the Department of Energy & Climate Change (Decc) in its response to the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) review.

It said limited access to waste feedstocks and a “drastic” reduction in Government support under the feed-in tariff (FiT) called into question whether anticipated growth could be realised.

REA head of biogas Kiara Zennaro said: “We welcome the Government’s recognition that AD has a critical role to play in decarbonising the heat, waste and agricultural sectors. We share the Government’s ambitions for growth, but building new industry requires stability and support.

“There is a need to reassess whether Decc’s expectations can be met, given the current constraints in terms of feedstock availability, drastic reductions in the FiT and the proposed restrictions on energy crops.”

Decc’s RHI consultation, which included chancellor George Osborne’s plan to increase funding for the scheme to £1.15bn by 2020-21 from £430m for 2015-16, closed on 27 April.

Its review document proposed reducing or removing support for energy crops used in AD and ending support for digestate drying, which drew concern from the AD & Bioresources Association.

When the consultation was launched in March, chief executive Charlotte Morton said: “We believe that all feedstocks can and should play a part in a sustainable, growing AD sector, providing cost-effective green gas and heat at scale.”

Berkshire-based AD firm Clearfleau recently told MRW that subsidised support for on-site facilities at smaller food production businesses could lead to an expansion across Europe.

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