UK REA responds to consultation on RHI reforms

By Erin Voegele | May 03, 2016

The U.K. Department of Energy and Climate Change’s consultation on the reform of the Renewable Heat Incentive closed April 27. The U.K. Renewable Energy Association weighed in on how the reforms could impact the biomass and biogas industries.

Information published by the REA states the DECC has proposed to reduce biomass boiler tariffs by up to 61 percent by 2017, after some tariffs were already cut 58 percent over the past year. The government has also prosed to reduce or remove subsidies for the use of energy crops in anaerobic digestion and for digestate drying, and to remove solar thermal from the RHI.

According to the REA, the proposed changes would collapse the biomass heating industry, resulting in job losses and a significantly slowed rate of decarbonization. Specifically, the RHI claims the reforms would lead to a 98 percent fall in the deployment of biomass boilers by 2021.

“We need a range of technologies to decarbonise a range of properties. Rural locations for example with no access to a gas network cannot be left behind. Biomass boilers are low-cost, provide significant carbon savings compared to oil boilers, and support the growth of healthy British forests,” said Frank Aaskov, policy analyst at the REA. “For many properties, biomass boilers are a pragmatic low-carbon alternative. They are used in diverse locations, such as at the National Trust property at Ickworth (Suffolk). It is distressing that the government’s proposals would shutter this growing industry and would have us rely instead on largely untested technologies.”

“We welcome the government’s recognition that AD has a critical role to play in decarbonising the heat, waste and agricultural sectors,” said Kiara Zennaro, head of biogas at the REA. “We share the government’s ambitions for growth, but building new industry requires stability and support. There is a need to reassess whether DECC’s expectations can be met given the current constraints in terms of feedstock availability, drastic reductions in the Feed In-Tariffs and the proposed restrictions on energy crops.”