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Biomass capacity consultation launched

Proposals for how new-build biomass projects will be allocated support under the Government’s Renewables Obligation (RO) subsidy could be stronger, according to the Renewable Energy Association (REA).

The Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) is seeking views on the process that will be used to allocate places within 400MW cap of new dedicated biomass capacity. The consultation says that places within the cap should only be allocated to projects that have reached financial close and have started construction or taken a decision to move to the construction phase.

The Government aims to support creating biomass capacity via the use of Renewables Obligation Certificates (ROCs), which subsidises the production of renewable energy. The allocation process will fix the ROC banding for the life of the biomass facility, giving greater financial certainty for investors and developers.

But the cap is designed to ensure Government support under the RO is value for taxpayers’ money by limiting the amount of biomass capacity that will be supported under the Government’s policy.

The REA said that a cap on new capacity was a deeply flawed concept.

Chief executive Gaynor Hartnell said that there was as much as 1,000MW of projects in development which could generate electricity more cheaply than offshore wind.

“The irony is that DECC should be welcoming such projects, rather than turning them away. The UK faces an impending capacity crunch in 2015-16 and the steady, baseload green electricity generation from these biomass projects is needed, and can provide significant investment and jobs across the country,” she said.

The notification process and the cap will not apply to some biomass technologies, including: dedicated biomass generators with 50kWe or less net capacity, or advanced conversion technologies such as gasification, pyrolysis and anaerobic digestion.

The original proposal for the notification processes to be administered by Ofgem has been scraped for a non-legislative process to be administered by DECC, which will be faster and produce a notification register by July.

The consultation closes on 7 June.

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