Urgent action needed to save ‘shovel-ready’ renewable heat projects, say UK biogas firms

Bedfordshire biogas

  • Renewable energy projects in the agri-food sector excluded from BEIS’s RHI Covid-19 Extension
  • Includes 20MW of previously-eligible renewable heat projects on farms and factory sites
  • Undermines Government ambitions to deliver Carbon Net Zero and to ‘build back better’.

British biogas businesses are urging Kwasi Kwarteng MP, Minister for Business, Energy and Clean Growth, to include all eligible renewable heat projects in the Covid-19 Extension of the Non-Domestic Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI), announced in the March 2020 Budget.

Richard Gueterbock, Director of Foodchains and a promoter of on-site bioenergy said, “Commercially viable low carbon, shovel-ready projects that fall below the Non-Domestic RHI Tariff Guarantee threshold (600kW thermal for biogas) have been hit by Covid-19-related planning delays, supply issues and visit restrictions. This unfair exclusion means that a number of clean heat projects, with insufficient time to complete by 31st March 2021, could be abandoned.”

Green investments on processing sites will decarbonise the supply chain while boosting local economies, creating green jobs and new skills. But capital costs, complex technology, and development risks for industrial decarbonisation cannot be carried by business alone. The RHI is essential for innovation in the supply of low carbon industrial heat at the required scale and pace. Existing biogas plants on food processing sites have benefited from the RHI and biogas has reduced carbon emissions by at least 30% on some sites.

Richard Gueterbock said, “Losing cost-effective industrial projects will undermine UK reduction targets and delay the transition to renewable energy. During the Covid pandemic there was a significant but temporary decline in atmospheric emissions across Europe. For this reason, industrial renewable heat projects must be part of Government ambition to ‘build back better’.

“We need the Energy Minister to take urgent action to reverse the unfair exclusion of smaller projects from the RHI Covid-19 Extension. Without green investments such as these projects, there will be a gaping hole in Government plans for Carbon Net Zero, which would be hugely embarrassing, as the UK is hosting the COP 26 Global Climate Change Conference at the end of 2021.”