NFU Frustrated at 'Inconsistency' Over Energy Plans

UK - The NFU has expressed its frustration at a lack of coherence in the government's renewable energy plans, following two apparently conflicting policy announcements.
calendar icon 30 July 2012
clock icon 2 minute read
National Farmers Union

The final consultation response setting out future Feed-In Tariff (FIT) levels for anaerobic digestion, small hydro and wind power was published on July 20, to supposedly draw a line under the uncertainty that has plagued the scheme since government concerns about its budget emerged in early 2011.

Meanwhile, controversy and delay over support for wind power surrounded the final announcement on the Renewables Obligation (RO), which was expected much earlier this year and eventually published on July 25.

It is understood that last-minute concessions were made to the Treasury to carry out further calls for evidence on the costs of wind and solar power supported by the RO. The government is also proposing to exclude from the RO all technologies which would be eligible for FITs support (onshore wind, hydro and anaerobic digestion projects up to 5 MW).

Jonathan Scurlock, NFU chief renewable energy adviser, said: “No sooner had the FITs scheme for small-scale renewable electricity been put on a stable footing - than the budget for medium-sized projects was thrown into doubt again, by the prospect of further consultations which would close off complementary support from the Renewables Obligation. There are fundamental problems with this approach to important mid-sized clean energy investors like farmers, which DECC now needs to address.

“This announcement undermines the modest increase in ambition achieved for AD under the FIT proposals the previous week. This is not going to deliver the huge increase in energy from AD the Coalition agreement promised, nor the multiple environmental benefits that we have planned in partnership with Defra under the government’s AD Strategy.

“The NFU is pleased that a degree of certainty has been provided to biomass power generation and enhanced co-firing of biomass, which we expect will create new opportunities for farmers to supply sustainable bioenergy feedstocks from domestic resources. However, this announcement appears to have been severely compromised by the absence of long-term commitments for many other forms of renewable energy. The current proposals will no doubt provoke an ugly race to pre-register renewables projects before tariffs are reduced, affecting both long-term growth and value-for-money in the renewables sector.”

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