EfW and landfill gas operators lose out under RO proposals

Energy-from-waste and landfill gas operators could see their renewables obligation (RO) subsidies halve or diminish completely under new government proposals announced today by DECC (October 20).

The proposals are part of a consultation on RO banding levels for large-scale renewable electricity from 2013-17, including energy-from-waste with combined heat and power, landfill gas, anaerobic digestion, pyrolysis and gasification.

Under the current banding system, those who operate energy-from-waste facilities with combined heat and power technology can claim one renewables obligation certificate (ROC) for every megawatt hour of electricity generated, while landfill gas generators receive 0.25 ROCs for the same amount of energy generated.

However, under the new proposals, the RO banding level for energy-from-waste would halve to 0.5 while ROCs support would be removed altogether from April 2013 for landfill gas generating stations that are not already accredited by that date.

DECC’s reasoning behind the proposals is that certain technologies are more viable than others and no longer require ROC support as market costs come down. However the news has been greeted with caution by the Environmental Services Association’s director of policy, Matthew Farrow, who warns that EfW markets are complex.

He said: “The transport costs associated with getting AD digestate to market could be significant, while refuse-derived fuel exports could lead to competition on gate fees between UK EfW plants and continental ones.

“The impact of factors like this on the appropriate level of RO support must be thought about. ESA will be looking at the detail of the consultation carefully.”

Maxine Perella

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