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Stackyard News Aug 2010

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Government is Not Just Wind on Biogas Income Generation

The coalition government’s slash and burn policy amongst the costly projects promoted by the Labour administration has not after all been inflicted on rural biogas digesters and advance waste product conversion schemes.

Jayne Carrick, project coordinator from
Gfw- Renewables’ Alnwick office

Jayne Carrick

The farmers who were looking to these as a means of providing a so-called green income stream from biomass, can expect support to continue. This is the message George F White’s renewables team are pleased to pass on to farmers, as a result of the information published by the government in its latest energy statement.

It had been widely feared that the income guarantees required to make investment in the technology required possible would be one of the many cuts that would be made as part of the latest economic rescue package. However, the new government is apparently prepared to “grandfather” the proposed scheme and the Department For Energy and Climate Change has maintained its commitment to the so-called “Renewables Obligation”, or RO, in its annual energy statement, published on its website. This means that investors in the technology required have been guaranteed a rate of return for the electricity generated by any scheme, once OFGEM has approved it.

Grandfathering is a term now used to describe any project, regulation or law which continues to be supported by an administration after the rules have been altered to forbid it.

Jayne Carrick, project coordinator from Gfw- Renewables’ Alnwick office explains that: “this commitment to ‘grandfathering’ provides certainty for potential biogas investors on the level of return they can expect to receive for 20 years, protecting investments from future changes in the RO; so once OFGEM has approved an installation the money generated is guaranteed at the then approved rate”.

In technical terms, the statement promises to “maintain Renewables Obligation (RO) support for bio-electricity generated from dedicated solid and gaseous biomass, energy from waste, anaerobic digestion and advanced conversion technologies such as gasification and pyrolysis.”

Jayne notes that: “There may even be further encouragement for the uptake of renewables, with the commitment to publish an Action Plan to increase energy from waste via anaerobic digestion in the autumn.”

Gfw-Renewables was set up to help farmers and landowners explore the income potential from Government Support Initiatives for Green and Greener technologies. Jayne, who has recently completed an MSc in Renewable Energy and Enterprise Management at Newcastle University adds: “It is clear the government recognises that these green policies require public support to overcome what are the potential risks from highly expensive, untried technologies. For our part, it’s our job to ensure that the promising investment opportunities associated with Government support initiatives are clearly understood. Here, we are underlining how the new Government’s commitment to RO returns boosts the appeal of such an investment.”

As Jayne concludes: “After a period of uncertainty and well publicised spending cuts, confidence has returned and the message is clear – renewable energy is here to stay with the benefits becoming increasing tempting. There are many more pitfalls and the key is to be able to have as much information as possible to hand before you commit to capital expenditure on a new venture. If you are unclear how these could affect you, please contact us for more information”.

George F. White and gfw-Renewables operate from North Lincolnshire to the Scottish Borders with offices in Northumberland, County Durham, North and East Yorkshire.

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