U.K. places non-legislative cap on biomass power under the RO

By Erin Voegele | December 19, 2012

The U.K. Department of Energy & Climate Change has announced decisions that it said will ensure that the Renewable Obligation brings new biomass projects into existence that are both cost and carbon effective. The decision essentially places a non-legislative cap on biomass power under the RO.

In a RO banding review published on Dec. 18, the U.K. government said it had decided to introduce a 400 MW non-legislative cap on the total new build dedicated biomass generating capacity that can expect to be supported at 1.5 Renewable Obligation Certificates per MWh. According to the document, the cap will not be set in regulation, but once the cap is triggered, the government will consider issuing a consultation paper on proposals to restrict further biomass deployment through the removal of grandfathering rights from additional dedicated biomass power. The review specifies that plants that deploy within the 400 MW trigger point will be unaffected.

According to the banding review, the government has also decided the cap will be underpinned by a notification register for new dedicated biomass power plants. It will be set up and managed of Ofgem. Furthermore, combined-heat-and-power CHP plants will be permanently excluded from the scope of the cap and the notification process when they are first certified under the CHP Quality Assurance program.

Support for cofiring of biomass and bioliquids is being reduced to 0.3 ROCs/MWh in 2013/2014 and 201415. Standard cofiring with CHP and cofiring of bioliquids with CHP will be reduced to 0.8 ROCs/MWh during the same time periods.

The banding review also notes that the energy crop uplift for standard cofiring will be removed, with the exception of existing contracts for energy crops, which will be supported through March 31, 2019 or the life of the contract, whichever is earlier.

“Biomass will make a significant contribution as we seek to increase the amount of cost-effective, low carbon renewable power in our energy mix,” said Edward Davey, Energy and Climate Change Secretary. “The support we are setting out today will bring new investment into the economy and create new jobs.”

The Renewable Energy Association has spoken out to welcome the news that the DECC has elected against a legislative supplier cap for biomass power. The organization also said it welcomes news that CHP projects will be permanently excluded from the monitoring process that dedicated biomass power facilities are subject to.

“REA has been listened to on the proposed cap on new biomass projects,” said Paul Thompson, REA head of policy. “Instead of implementing legislation that would have stopped investment in its tracks, DECC is taking more of a ‘wait and see’ approach, with the option of consulting if deployment exceeds 400MW. Today’s decision recognizes the substantial contribution that these projects can make to delivering cost effective carbon savings and steady baseload output.”

The banding review and other documents associated with the announcement can be downloaded from the Department of Energy & Climate Change website.