18 February 2011
The European Commission State Aid has approved proposals to increase support for small-scale renewable electricity. They have ruled that electricity generated from anaerobic digestion can now receive up to double the support currently offered under the Northern Ireland Renewables Obligation (NIRO). But what does this mean for the anaerobic digestion (AD) industry, waste contractors, farmers and landowners?
WYG’s anaerobic digestion expert, Dr Kevin Monson, gives his view on the proposals and how he sees this benefiting the AD industry.
“I have been involved in anaerobic digestion for over ten years and I see this as the most positive, most pro-active step taken by any UK regional government to incentivise AD and stimulate the private investment required to make AD happen. The approved proposals are huge step in the right direction for the AD industry, not only placing Northern Ireland as fore-runners for AD in Britain and Ireland, but enabling NI companies to export knowledge and skills to the rest of the UK and Ireland!
Subject to approval by the Northern Ireland Assembly, the change in legislation will increase the Renewables Obligation Certificate (ROC) levels for electricity generated from anaerobic digestion. This is from the current two ROCs per megawatt hour for all sizes to four ROCs per megawatt hour for generating stations up to 500kW capacity and three ROCs per megawatt hour for stations between 501kW and 5MW.
If approved, these and other proposals will be introduced in the Renewables Obligation (Amendment) Order 2011 which will be subject to approval by the Northern Ireland Assembly in March for introduction on 1 April 2011.
I am convinced that this is great news for the AD industry, for local farmers and for Northern Ireland as a nation.
This decision will make AD more attractive in NI, making more projects viable and stimulating the private investment required to enable NI to make serious progress towards challenging European and national landfill diversion and renewable energy targets. This decision should also create employment in rural areas, deliver a timely boost to the construction sector, and go some way towards making NI more self-sufficient in terms of energy (ultimately keeping more money in the country). Great news all round!
Energy Minister Arlene Foster has also welcomed the announcement saying it is further good news for Northern Ireland’s renewable energy sector and that the enhanced support for anaerobic digestion will help stimulate this important renewables technology, whilst bringing wider benefits, particularly to the farming community.”
Dr Kevin Monson,
Anaerobic Digestion Expert, WYG
Photo caption: A biogas plant