Review at last for renewable tariffs
Energy secretary Chris Huhne announced the review of the Feed-in Tariffs (FiT) scheme for small scale low carbon electricity generation on Monday (7 February).
Mr Huhne said he was concerned about the impact of big solar panel installations which, he said, could take a disproportionate share of funding.
At the same time, he expressed disappointment at the lack of farm-based anaerobic digestion plants currently accessing FiTs.
Only two farm-based anaerobic digestion plants have been accredited, although the government had expected to accredit at least six by now.
Mr Huhne said: “We are looking again at the tariff rates inherited from the previous administration to see if they are enough to make-farm-based anaerobic digestion worthwhile.”
The Country Land and Business Association welcomed the news.
It has campaigned for higher payments since the tariff was introduced a year ago, arguing that FiTs left many renewable energy projects short of finance.
CLA president William Worsley said: “Farm-based AD will help agriculture drive down its carbon emissions, deliver sustainable energy and other wider benefits to the rural economy.”
Rural business consultants Strutt & Parker also welcomed the review.
Current tariff levels were too low to make on-farm anaerobic digestion viable at a scale practical to integrate into current operations, it said.
The review should ensure that systems of between 100kW and 400kW using slurries, crops and vegetable waste were viable. “Farmers are well suited to operating anaerobic digesters, said a Strutt & Parker spokesman.
“They have suitable locations, are used to working with machinery and the materials that go into and come out of anaerobic digesters.
“There are many anaerobic digestion plants on farm in Europe and hopefully the review will encourage more to be built in the UK as well.”
Further details of measures to support renewable heat generation are expected to be published by the government next month.