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Ministers shift from mandatory biomass cap

A decision not to put a mandatory cap on new biomass schemes has been welcomed by a sector which lobbied against such a cap.

The Government’s response to consultation on projects to be supported under Renewables Obligation (RO) scheme has been published the Department for Climate Change (DECC).

Under the regime, new biomass plants will get 1.5 Renewable Obligation Certificates (ROCs) per mWh from 2013, and 1.4 ROCs in 2016. Once the 400mW cap is reached, the government will review the state of the market under fresh consultation.

Support for standard co-firing of biomass and co-firing of regular bioliquids will be reduced to 0.3 ROCs/MWh in 2013/14 and 2014/15.

Meanwhile, support for standard co-firing with combined heat and power (CHP) and co-firing of regular bioliquids with CHP will be reduced to 0.8 ROCs/mWh in 2013/14 and 2014/15.

DECC predicts the announcement will help unlock investment decisions worth £600m and create around 1,000 new construction jobs.

Energy secretary Edward Davey said: “Biomass will make a significant contribution as we seek to increase the amount of cost-effective, low carbon renewable power in our energy mix. The support we are setting out today will bring new investment into the economy and create new jobs.”

DECC’s report on the consultation indicated that 83% of respondents were opposed to the proposed introduction of a cap on new dedicated biomass power.

Gaynor Hartnell

The Renewable Energy Association (REA) called the decision a “big win for the biomass power industry”.

REA chief executive Gaynor Hartnell, left, said: “Instead of implementing legislation that would have stopped investment in its tracks, DECC is taking more of a ‘wait and see’ approach, with the option of consulting if deployment exceeds 400MW.

“Today’s decision recognises the substantial contribution that these projects can make to delivering cost effective carbon savings and steady baseload output.”

REA also welcomed the decision that CHP projects would be permanently excluded from the monitoring process from the point of certification under the Combined Heat and Power Quality Assurance (CHPQA) programme.

Shadow energy minister Tom Greatrex said the shift recognised the concerns raised.

“Instead of a cap it is a pause and a rethink and that is right,” he told a Back Biomass event in the House of Lords.

The notification process for new dedicated biomass power plants and the criteria for registration are expected to be introduced within a separate Renewables Obligation Order for implementation from October 2013.

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