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Industry concern at RHI review

Anaerobic digestion (AD) operators have voiced concern about the Department of Energy & Climate Change (Decc)‘s Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) review.

The department has launched a consultation on changes to RHI legislation, which includes chancellor George Osborne’s plan to increase funding for the scheme to £1.15bn by 2020-21 from £430m for 2015-16.

Its review document proposes reducing or removing support for energy crops used in AD and ending support for digestate drying, which has drawn concern from the Anaerobic Digestion & Bioresources Association (ADBA).

ADBA chief executive Charlotte Morton (pictured) said: “ADBA looks forward to working with our members to put together a strong case for biomethane and biogas support under the RHI.

“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.

“The industry welcome’s Decc’s recognition that reductions in the biomethane tariff this year could go too far to allow for future development, and that the department plans to introduce tariff guarantees for biomethane and large biogas installations.

“As well as making changes following this consultation, ADBA is calling for action to ensure that deployment can continue in 2016-17.”

The Renewable Energy Association (REA) expressed concern at a proposed reduction in biomass boiler tariffs of up to 61% by 2017.

Chief executive Dr Nina Skorupska said: “Consultations such as this make apparent that the Government’s own energy policy is short-sighted. This consultation proposes yet another series of sudden and severe changes to the UK’s energy sector.”

Morton initially warned of uncertainty around the level of funding available for new AD projects under the scheme because Osborne had restricted growth of the fund.

But the trade body said in its December market report that there could be 180 green gas plants in operation by 2021 if a reasonable proportion of the RHI budget was allocated to AD and the scheme’s structure is workable.

The consultation will close on 27 April.

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