The Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) has bowed to sector calls for the reintroduction of pre-accreditation for Feed-in Tariffs (FiTs).
DECC removed preliminary accreditation from the FiT scheme on 1 October along with the chance to receive a tariff guarantee through pre-registration.
Now it is being reintroduced for renewable power generators including anaerobic digestion (AD) plants, following a consultation that ran from August to October.
The Anaerobic Digestion & Bioresources Association (ADBA) has previously insisted that pre-accreditation was “vital for the ongoing success of the AD sector”.
The department had warned that the FiT scheme could be removed altogether if the renewables sector considered proposed cuts to be unsustainable. But it has now said it will limit new spending on the scheme to £100m up to the end of 2018-19.
It has also decided to pause new applications to the FiT scheme from 15 January to 8 February, to “allow time for the implementation of cost control measures”.
Energy secretary Amber Rudd said: “My priority is to ensure energy bills for hardworking families and businesses are kept as low as possible whilst ensuring there is a sensible level of support for low-carbon technologies that represent value for money.
“We have to get the balance right and I am clear that subsidies should be temporary, not part of a permanent business model. When the cost of technologies come down, so should the consumer-funded support.”
ADBA chief executive, Charlotte Morton welcomed the reintroduction of preliminary accreditation, but expressed disappointment at some limitations on support that the AD industry, which deployed 48MW in 2014, would receive.
She said: “A maximum of 20MW of new capacity each year is less than half of AD deployment in 2014, and severely restricts our ability to deliver baseload energy and decarbonisation across waste treatment and farming – despite the committee on climate change recognising the importance of action in these areas in their advice on the fifth carbon budget.”
The 20MW cap is reduced from 26MW in DECC’s original proposals in its consultation.
Renewable Energy Association head of policy James Court said: “The Government has taken on board many of the common-sense suggestions from the REA and wider industry, such as bringing back pre-accreditation for long lead schemes, reallocating budgets from under-deployed technologies and increasing deployment caps for solar.
“The tariffs are still very challenging and, while the changes will help save some in the industry, it remains that many will be exiting. But this is an improvement and may still provide the base to get to post-subsidy.”
Juliet Davenport, chief executive of energy firm Good Energy, said: “The new measures are a slight improvement on the original proposals but still mean that installing solar panels will no longer be attractive to British home-owners, and the changes will also make it harder for housing associations and councils to use FiT to help those in fuel poverty.
“Just last week, world leaders agreed to ambitious plans to reduce carbon emissions. The UK Government really needs to get behind low-carbon technology and take a global lead in seizing the new opportunities.”