EAEM: Industry welcomes support for solar and biomass19/12/2012
Support announced for new biomass projects could unlock investment decisions worth up to £600m, said DECC, creating around 1,000 construction jobs.
The news comes in the government response to consultations announced by Ed Davey, energy and climate change secretary. He said: “Our support levels reflect the fall in the cost of the technology. Biomass will make a significant contribution as we seek to increase the amount of cost-effective, low carbon renewable power in our energy mix.”
Greg Barker, minister of state for energy and climate change, added: “We have listened to industry about the need to differentiate support between building mounted and ground mounted installations and we have introduced two bands as a result. Our proposals for solar projects on commercial buildings will encourage businesses to consider solar PV as a serious option for meeting their power needs.”
It was also confirmed that the national grid has the capacity to accommodate a tenfold increase in solar power.
The changes in the levels of support indicate how much cheaper solar PV has become in the last three years.
There are 300,000 acres of brownfield sites and commercial roofspace available in the UK, offering opportunities for investors, landowners and property owners who now have investment certainty up until 2017.
The government has also announced that it will ensure that biomass projects that are cost and carbon effective will receive support, up to a certain level of capacity.
A significant majority of respondents (83%) were opposed to the proposed introduction of a cap on new dedicated biomass power.
However, the government has decided to introduce a non-legislative cap, set at 400MW, on the total new build dedicated biomass generating capacity that can expect to be supported at 1.5 ROCs/MWh (or 1.4 ROCS/MWh in the case of full accreditations after 31 March 2016).
But biomass CHP plants will be not be affected by the cap, if they are first certified, fully or partially, under the CHP Quality Assurance (CHPQA) programme.
The government has also decided that support for standard co-firing of biomass and co-firing of regular bioliquids will be reduced to 0.3 ROCs/MWh in 2013-14 and 2014-15. Standard co-firing with CHP and co-firing of regular bioliquids with CHP will be reduced to 0.8 ROCs/MWh in 2013-14 and 2014-15 respectively.
However, support for the growing of crops such as short rotation willow coppice and miscanthus specifically for burning in power stations is to cease, except for existing contracts which will terminate by April 2019.
Limiting the deployment of dedicated biomass (and therefore use of bio-resources) protects the biodiversity, as well as safeguarding carbon sinks. There are also potential benefits from reduced impact on air quality, land use and feedstock competition.
Ben Warren, environmental finance partner at Ernst & Young, welcomed the decision: "It is clear that the views of industry have been listened to," he said. “The sector comes out of this process with a lot of uncertainty removed and with a much better understanding of the government's longer term objectives with regards to the role that renewable energy has to play in the UK’s energy mix".
Sonya Bedford, head of renewable energy at Stephens Scown LLP in Exeter, welcomed the announcement and said: “The whole sector has been seeking certainty as to the banding for Solar PV under the ROC scheme in order to enable the large schemes to proceed. It is, however, disappointing that the banding for ground mounted installations was not provided at 1.8 which was the recommendation from the solar community.”