Sunday, May 27, 2018

Government ‘must do more’ for green energy

April 30, 2018 by  
Filed under News & Business

The government has been told it must do more to reduce the amount of carbon emissions in heating systems used in millions of premises– and lobbyists say anaerobic digestion could be a solution.

It follows a report by government auditors which says the Department for Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy failed to get value for money from the Renewable Heat Incentive which aims to encourage a switch from fossil fuel heating systems to renewable and low-carbon alternatives.

The National Audit Office report says the RHI is a novel approach to making progress towards meeting meeting the UK’s legal obligations and identifying longer-term options for eliminating carbon emissions from heat production.

Budget control

It says the department showed flexibility in rolling out the scheme, adjusting the way the scheme works to respond to a changing strategy and over-optimistic initial planning assumptions – and avoid the sort of budget control problems that occurred in Northern Ireland.

But the report says the department has not achieved value for money.

It says the department does not have a reliable estimate of the amount it has overpaid to participants that have not complied with the regulations, nor the impact of participants playing the system, which could accumulate to reduce the scheme’s value significantly.

Huge challenge

Public Accounts Committee chairman Meg Hillier said: “The government faces a huge challenge in cutting harmful carbon emissions. The NAO report shows how the government has massively cut back its ambitions for this scheme, and that as a result it will have to work even harder elsewhere.

“But right now the government doesn’t know how it is going to cut carbon from heating systems in millions of homes and businesses around the country. There is a limited amount of time to work with, so it needs to start making real progress now.”

The Anaerobic Digestion & Bioresources Association, which represents producers of AD energy, said green gas was home-grown and reduced carbon emissions by reducing the need for expensive natural-gas imports.

Support

With support for the RHI due to end in 2021, ADBA chief executive Charlotte Morton called on the government to address policy gap by providing long-term support for renewable heat which would encourage investment in the sector.

Ms Morton said: “As one of the technologies supported by the RHI, biomethane – or green gas – is currently heating over 300,000 homes and displacing almost 800,000 tonnes of CO2, the equivalent to taking almost a million cars off our roads.

“As a home-grown, renewable source of heat, it is helping to decarbonise the UK’s gas grid and improving energy security through reducing the need for expensive natural-gas imports from unstable parts of the world.”

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