AD and climate goals threatened by RHI delays

A backlog in the UK parliament is threatening the country’s climate goals, according to the chief executive of the Anaerobic Digestion and Bioresources Association (ADBA).

Recently, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) confirmed that the tabling of legislation to reform the UK’s Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) will be pushed back until early 2018. The RHI is the government’s principal mechanism for incentivising the generation of renewable heat.

Charlotte Morton, ADBA’s chief executive, described this delay to the legislation as “a significant threat to the UK’s ability to meet its climate goals”.


Repeated delays

The legislation had originally been due to be voted on in the spring of 2017, but the snap June election - called by Prime Minister Theresa May - saw it postponed. The vote was rescheduled for autumn, but has now been pushed back even further. This is the result of delays in re-establishing the Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments, a backlog in the legislative timetable following June’s general election, and the requirement for legislation related to Brexit.

“This further delay to the passing of the RHI legislation is another unnecessary blow to a vital industry that can make a large contribution to meeting the UK’s targets for decarbonising heat, to which the government has to date made very little progress,” said Morton. “This delay not only puts millions of pounds of investment at risk but on a wider level is a significant threat to the UK’s ability to meet its climate change goals.”

The proposed RHI legislation would restore tariffs for production of renewable heat to previously higher levels, something which ADBA argues would facilitate the construction of anaerobic digestion plants that can produce renewable biogas. Millions of pounds of investment in AD is currently on hold, as the industry waits for clarity from the government.

“I’ve written directly to ministers at BEIS to reiterate the damaging effect that this further delay will have on the AD industry and its ability to help decarbonise the UK’s gas grid,” Morton continued.

“We’re also very concerned at the suggestion from BEIS of new restrictions on the number of AD plants that can receive tariff guarantees. BEIS needs to ensure that it doesn’t punish AD for offering a clean and cost-effective way to heat our homes and businesses.”

If BEIS imposed restrictions on the amount of investment in renewable heat that can receive a guaranteed tariff rate, some AD developers that have invested around £100,000 in reaching the stage where they can apply for a guarantee in reliance on promised higher tariff rates may face the prospect of missing out on government support entirely, ADBA claims.

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