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Definition of 'waste crops' to be tightened

The use of crops grown specifically to fuel energy schemes qualifying for the Renewables Obligation (RO) is to be banned.

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (Beis) has responded to a consultation during October and November.

In the summer, a Government-commissioned report on biofuels set out a strong case for promoting the use of wastes such as cooking oil, municipal solid waste, the dregs from whisky manufacture or ’fatbergs’ from sewers.

The review of the sustainability pros and cons of biofuels was carried out by the Royal Academy of Engineering for Beis and the Department for Transport.

It said biofuels had a role to play, especially ’second generation’ fuel from wastes and by-products of other sectors, but acknowledged concern over RO incentives for energy schemes using ’first generation’ biofuels – those made from crops grown for the purpose.

Beis now says the meaning of waste in the RO legislation will take account of a new definition introduced by the EU’s Indirect Land-use Change (ILUC) Directive.

“This will make it clear that substances will not be considered to be waste where they have been intentionally modified or contaminated to fall within the definition of waste set out in Article 3(1) of Directive 2008/98/EC. This new definition of ‘waste’ will apply in relation to bioliquids, and solid and gaseous biomass,” said the Beis response to the consultation.

Concerned at what is included in ’residues from processing’, Beis says legislation will make it clear that substances will not be considered to be processing residues where they are the primary aim of a production process.

“The aim is to avoid incentivising a deliberate increase in processing residues at the expense of the main product,” it says.

In other proposals, operators of generators of more than 50kW will have to provide Ofgem with information on the energy content of bioliquids sourced from starch-rich crops, sugars, oil crops and other crops grown as a main crop primarily for energy purposes on agricultural land.

The current reporting requirements for microgenerators (up to 50kW capacity) is unchanged, so operators will not have to provide any information beyond the existing requirements. 

Legislation implementing these and other changes, to apply across the UK, is due to come in to force on 1 January 2018.

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