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Utility Weel: Biomass projects must be 'shovel-ready' to come in under subsidy cap



Dedicated biomass projects must secure finance and be ready for construction to get in under the government's cap for guaranteed subsidies, in a notification process proposed for consultation today. 

The race is on for developers to get their schemes shovel-ready before a 400MW cap on new capacity is reached. After that point, support under the Renewables Obligation will not be "grandfathered" - meaning government could cut it at a future date.

The Department of Energy and Climate Change said its proposed register, due to come in in July, would "give transparency" to the market as the cap is filled.

The Renewable Energy Association, which has opposed the cap since it was introduced in December, said the register was the best way to implement a "flawed concept".

"The entire concept of capping new dedicated biomass capacity is wrong. There may be as much as 1,000MW of projects still in active development, yet Decc wants to limit the build to only 400MW," said REA chief executive Gaynor Hartnell.

"Whilst the proposal is probably the best means of implementing this deeply flawed concept, it is not without risk. There could be a situation where more than 400MW applies to go on the register on the same day."

Government should be welcoming biomass projects, given the projected capacity crunch in 2015, she added. "The majority of projects proposed today could be operational, had there not been a series of policy changes and prolonged lack of clarity on the Government's part."