The UK’s fledgling biogas industry has expressed relief, after the government issued reassurances that it remained committed to expanding the biomethane-to-grid sector. The Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) recently ran a consultation on proposed changes to the level of support offered to anaerobic digestion plants that inject biogas to the grid, amidst concerns that the sector was being over-rewarded in a way that could lead to a costly boom in new developments.
Heat and hot water at a new housing development in the Highlands will be provided by an innovative community biomass scheme, after the local council approved the project. The 24 two and three bedroom family houses being built at Milton Burn, in the heart of the town of Aviemore, will be heated by a single biomass heating network powered by two 70 kilowatt biomass systems.
A huge growth in Suffolk’s independent renewables projects has been recorded as farmers, businesses and public sector organisations seek ways of tackling soaring energy prices. New research has revealed a 48% year-on-year increase in funding for schemes such as wind turbines and solar installations in the county – on top of projects from the “Big Six” power companies.
Wetherby-based wind turbine specialist Earthmill has opened the UK’s first crowd-funded investment aimed at farm-scale turbines, which enables individuals to invest in turbine installations already operating on farms across Yorkshire. The innovative fund, which guarantees investors returns of 7.25 per cent per annum over three years, with an additional 0.25 per cent for early investors, has been launched by renewable energy crowd-funding platform Trillion Fund. The minimum investment is £50 and Earthmill’s initial target is to raise £1.25m. Loans will be secured against five already operational farm scale turbines across Yorkshire.
A new 100kw hydro scheme has been switched on at the foot of Inverlochlarig burn, a course of water which feeds into Loch Doine, then Loch Voil and eventually the Firth of Forth. Inverlochlarig, near Lochearnhead and within the Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park, is a 10,000 acre hill farm which has been tended to by the same family since 1877. It is home to more than 3,500 Scottish Blackface and Cheviot Ewes and a herd of 100 cattle.
The Renewable Energy Association (REA) has officially launched a new trade body to represent the fast-expanding wood heat technology industry. Announcing the formal launch of the new body at the All Energy Conference in Aberdeen, Julian Morgan-Jones, managing director of South East Wood Fuels and interim chairman of the WHA, said the recent launch of the domestic Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) scheme made it “an exciting time for the wood heat industry”.
English farmers investing in on-farm anaerobic digestion (AD) can apply for loan funding as part of a £3m DEFRA initiative. Loans to cover 50% of project costs up to a maximum of £400,000 were announced as part of the On Farm AD Fund by environment secretary Owen Paterson. The scheme is available for small-scale AD plants up to 250kW in size, primarily run on farm waste, with loans expected to be issued to farmers at the beginning of 2014.
The City of Edinburgh (which has a population about the same size as Cumbria) is working with Midlothian Council to build an anaerobic digester for food waste. The project will create around 50 jobs during construction and nine full-time jobs when complete. The plant will generate electricity which will be used by Scottish Water to help power water and drainage services across Scotland.
Farms and rural businesses with renewables in mind have been given a quarter million pound window of opportunity over the next two years. Businesses will see an increase in the annual investment allowance (AIA) giving 100% tax relief on investments from £25,000 to £250,000 for the next two years.
Johnnie Andringa, CEO of Glasgow based Gaia-Wind said: “This is a fantastic opportunity for those looking to invest in small wind. The allowance comfortably covers an investment in one or even several small wind turbines and means that a farm or rural business could offset the entire cost against their income tax in year one.” Investing in one turbine at around £45,000 would mean the net cost of the turbine for a 40% tax payer would be £27,000: Payback time on a Gaia-Wind turbine based on the current Feed in Tariff drops from 5.3 years to 3.4 years; and the level of investment required for say, two turbines, drops to around the previous cost for one – with double the return.
A 250 kW anaerobic digestion plant is being planned at Ponsonby Old Hall Farm near Seascale by a joint venture formed by Yorkshire based on-farm biogas developer JFS & Associates and a family run Farm in Cumbria. JFS will act as a development partner and construct the biogas plant, while the farm will supply the feedstock from existing farm wastes such as manure and slurry, supplemented with energy crops.