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UK Anaerobic Digestion Renewable Heat Incentive Details Published by DECC

Anaerobic Digestion Non-domestic Renewable Heat Incentive

The UK Government says it is providing certainty for investors in renewable heat and small-scale electricity, but there is still a way to go, with the first recording of metered heat-use more than a year away.

However, the UK AD industry has been waiting a long while already, and will be relieved that this further announcement and the start of another round of consultation has at least gotten underway just in-time before the start of the summer holidays.

What has actually been done is that the government has unveiled proposals to improve the performance and manage the future budget of the non-domestic Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI). They are further fleshing out the mechanisms by which the RHI will work in a final round of consultations before the start of implementation in 2013, beginning with the large installations first.

An advance accreditation scheme, which is part of the package, will help with obtaining funding.

AD Feed-in Tariffs for 2012

The UK Government today also announced changes to the Feed-in Tariffs (FiTs), following the consultation which took place earlier this year. Those tariffs remain the same, except for the large scale rate which reduces slightly. 

This reduction is to be expected under the concept of degression. As the technology develops costs and investment risk will also fall and the subsidy level will reflect this. There is evidence at the large scale that processes are becoming more robust and reliable and it can be argued that such a reduction will not harm the industry take up of the AD process at this level.

However, the industry will be disappointed that more tariff support has not been given to the small scale plants in the UK, but as the industry has been pressing for more support for smaller biogas producers for some time, in order to bring the costs within the range of average sized farm operations throughout the UK.

That would have provided a potential explosion in biogas take-up and a very large number of plants built, which could rival those in Germany. It would contribute to government renewable energy targets more rapidly than wind can achieve and it seems disappointing that the government has not had the vision to go for growth in this way. After all the biogas industry is quite labour intensive and the boost to the UK economy would have been significant.

Home grown energy would keep the money in the UK and Europe rather than the alternative payments for fossil fuels which presumably end up largely in the hands of the major oil producing states.

For government the downside would have been the cost in terms of the additional burden on the energy companies, and the government will have been anxious to avoid the press and right-wing conservative MPs suggesting that the government is putting the economy at risk by burdening it with “green” payments. The government would see that as very damaging at such a time of cuts and recession.

It is pleasing that microCHP subsidies are being increased. Micro combined heat and power or micro-CHP is an extension of the now well established idea of cogeneration to the single/ multi family home or small office.

The new tariffs for AD will be:

  • ≤250kW: The current rate of 14.7 p/kWh will remain unchanged
  • >250 – ≤500kW: The current rate of 13.6 p/kWh will remain unchanged
  • >500 – ≤5000kW: The current rate of 9.9 p/kWh will decrease to 8.96 p/kWh from December 2012

For more information on the changes to the Feed-in Tariffs and Renewable Heat Incentive
please visit:

The Future of Landfill Gas & Biogas

Biomethane has big potential says award winner

Biomethane can provide over one sixth of all UK residential heat by 2020 and vehicle fuel. Rapid development of Biomethane to Grid is necessary and for carbon offsetting, biomethane vehicle fuel presents the best of all potential biogas uses. It can meet the required increase in renewable electricity, heat and fuel production to achieve the 15 percent renewable energy target set by the European Union for 2020. However, UK regulatory and financial barriers need to be overcome and the UK can learn from substantial progress made in Sweden, Germany and Denmark.

So says the winner of the 2010 CIWM Geotech Bursary, Russell Harwood, in his paper presented at the CIWM Professional Awards in October 2010. The award is open to all and offers a £1500 bursary to the winner with the best proposal for a paper entitled: The Future Roles of Landfill Gas and Biogas. Entry deadline: 1st March 2011, details from:

Harwood considers that landfill gas combustion using spark ignition engines will continue to play a key role in the renewable energy mix up to 2020. In the future, he suggests, microturbines can succeed spark ignition engines, at landfills with low methane gas concentrations, to extend gas extraction lifetime.

According to Harwood, generating hydrogen from landfill gas and biogas for direct use in fuel cells is still commercially undeveloped. However he says it is expected to become more commercially viable within the next decade.

Harwood's research adopted an holistic approach to review the current and future trends in the production and utilisation of landfill gas and biogas. He placed particular emphasis on developing innovative technologies, their progress in selected European nations and the incentives and barriers to their adoption in the UK.

Russell Harwood observed that waste management legislation and policy of the 21st Century seek sustainable resource recovery. Essential to this is increasing anaerobic digestion infrastructure to produce biogas and improving landfill gas extraction efficiency to meet energy targets and sustainability goals of 2020. The Renewable Energy Strategy 2009 states that bioenergy including landfill gas and biogas could contribute up to 22 percent of this target as well as biogas contributing to the 12 percent renewable heat requirement. There is a need to decarbonise the transport sector and biofuel consumption needs to increase to 5 percent by 2014. He cites examples in other EU countries, especially Sweden, where progress with biomethane in transport is well ahead of UK. See more and view full paper at:

Direct link to full paper:

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One Response to UK Anaerobic Digestion Renewable Heat Incentive Details Published by DECC

  1. Alisha Baiera July 27, 2012 at 5:35 am #

    I do like the way you have framed this concern plus it does present us some fodder for consideration. Still, thank you for this excellent piece.

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