U.K. reviews feed-in tariff program

By Lisa Gibson | February 07, 2011

A low rate of anaerobic digestion (AD) development since the implementation of a feed-in tariff (FIT) to boost such projects has prompted the U.K.’s Department of Energy and Climate Change to review the tariff level, considering changes if need be.

The FIT scheme went live in April of 2010, designed to incentivize establishment of solar, wind, hydro and AD power projects up to 5 megawatts. Since then, however, only two AD plants have been established, just a third of the estimated six anticipated by the DECC. Currently, AD facilities are granted 11.5 pence (pennies) per kilowatt hour through 2013 with a tariff lifetime of 20 years.

According to a DECC spokesperson, the agency will solicit feedback on the FIT program from AD developers and potential developers, in an attempt to determine if the tariffs make farm-based AD worthwhile. If they do not, adjustments, including a potential tariff level increase, will be made as soon as possible to keep the industry moving forward, the spokesperson said. If changes are made, a formal consultation period will be required before they can be implemented, but they will not be retroactive and will only affect new entrants into the scheme.

The review of the entire FIT program was announced by Energy Secretary Chris Huhne, following growing evidence that large-scale solar farms could soak up money intended to help homes, communities and small businesses generate their own electricity. The review will assess all aspects of the program, including tariff levels, administration and eligibility of technologies, according to the DECC. The agency expects to complete the review by the end of the year, but the spokesperson said any AD changes will hopefully be implemented before then. Any possible changes to other technology tariff levels will not take effect until 2012, unless determined to be urgent.

Nearly 20,000 solar projects have been installed with the help of the FIT scheme, as well as 178 hydro and 1,132 wind applications.