Changes to Legislation to Encourage Anaerobic Digestion in Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland Energy Minister Arlene Foster has welcomed European Commission State Aid approval for proposals to increase support for small-scale renewable electricity. The European Commission has ruled that electricity generated from anaerobic digestion can now receive up to double the support currently offered under the Northern Ireland Renewables Obligation (NIRO).

Subject to approval by the Northern Ireland Assembly, the change in legislation will increase the ROC levels for electricity generated from anaerobic digestion from the current two ROCs per megawatt hour for all sizes to four ROCs per megawatt hour for generating stations up to 500kW capacity and three ROCs per megawatt hour for stations between 501kW and 5MW.

An anaerobic digestion installation.

Welcoming the Commission’s approval, the Minister says: “This is further good news for Northern Ireland’s renewable energy sector. The enhanced support for anaerobic digestion, will help stimulate this important renewables technology, whilst bringing wider benefits, particularly to the farming community.”

In addition to the enhanced ROC levels for anaerobic digestion, State Aid approval was also received for additional generating capacity installed by those renewables generators accredited under the NIRO before 1st April 2010. Anyone who did not receive the enhanced ROC levels for new generators accredited from 1st April 2010, will now receive the higher levels for any further capacity they add.

These and other proposals will be introduced in the Renewables Obligation (Amendment) Order 2011 which will be subject to approval by the Northern Ireland Assembly in March for introduction on 1st April 2011.

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