The Renewable Energy Association (REA) has welcomed reassurances from UK Energy Minister Greg Barker that the expansion of the UK’s fledgling green gas industry will not be curtailed.
The government’s ‘RHI biomethane injection to grid tariff review’, which closed to responses on 27th June, seeks to reduce the level of support for new biomethane injection (‘green gas’) projects following representations from industry that some larger plants might be over-rewarded, increasing costs for taxpayers.
Early intervention by the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) before the issue got out of hand has been welcomed by the industry, but concerns remained regarding some of the options laid out in the consultation, which would have inflicted disastrous impacts on future green gas projects at all scales.
The Renewable Energy Association (REA) wrote to Energy Minister Greg Barker on these issues seeking clarification. The REA is now pleased to hear from the minister that the options concerned were merely ‘illustrative tariff scenarios’ and that final decisions on tariff levels will be taken in light of the consultation responses.
Mr Barker’s letter also states that the data on gate fees (the money a biogas plant makes from taking in food waste collections) underpinning these scenarios is not sufficiently robust and that changes to the biomethane to grid tariff will not take effect before 1st December 2014. DECC has also clarified that it will update the industry on its emerging thinking at appropriate points during the review process. The details contained in the Minister’s letter have also appeared on the DECC website as part of a consultation update.
“Home-grown green gas keeps food waste out of landfill, improves our energy security, reduces damage to the climate and strengthens rural economies, yet it looked for all the world as if DECC was about to pull the rug out from under this fledgling industry after bringing forward just a handful of projects” said Dr Nina Skorupska, REA Chief Executive. “The Minister’s clarifications take the sting out of this consultation and are very welcome indeed. It’s important to keep the lines of communication open between Government and industry, and in fairness DECC’s stakeholder engagement since publishing the consultation has been very good. The recent one-to-one surgeries with biomethane developers should ensure that officials get the evidence they need to make the right decisions and sustain cost-effective growth in the industry.”
UK biogas trade associations will continue to engage with the government and other stakeholders in order to minimise the risk this tariff review presents to future green gas projects, particularly those projects that have already secured investment but will not complete before the 1st December deadline. The Minister also closed his letter by reaffirming his commitment to work with the REA and ADBA to ensure a bright and sustainable future for the biomethane to grid industry.