Tariffs Not Fit For Purpose

Westminster urged to restore anaerobic digestion support

Anaerobic digestion’s potential as a renewable energy option for Scottish farm businesses will suffer unless Westminster reinstates the feed in tariff (FiT) rates available for those considering installation.

NFU Scotland has written to the UK Government, highlighting that the 20 percent reduction in FiTs for anaerobic digesters is likely to stall the positive impact that anaerobic digestion (AD) could have on Scottish livestock farms.  That would happen at a time when the technology is being taken up in many other parts of Europe and second generation energy schemes in the UK look to capture the value of AD based on cattle slurry waste streams.

The Union argues that while wind energy - both at commercial and farm level - has been the main driver of the growth in renewables in Scotland, the development of a more diverse portfolio of renewable technology would add value to the economy while contributing to a balanced energy flow into the grid. Anaerobic digestion merits a place in that plan.

Writing to the Minister of State for Climate Change, Greg Barker MP, NFU Scotland President Nigel Miller said:

“Although anaerobic digestion is yet to mature as a technology in the UK and Scotland, it has real potential to contribute to and balance renewable energy targets while utilising waste. That is why we are so disappointed to see FiT rates have been rolled back by Westminster.

“Anaerobic digestion has been widely adopted on German farms utilising a spectrum of feed stocks including maize and slurries.  We can build on this technology in Scotland, integrating it into modern dairy units and utilising cattle slurry as the principal feedstock.

“This smart approach to anaerobic digestion utilises a waste stream to generate power, heat and fertiliser while also minimising water quality risks associated with conventional slurry management. Clearly the technology fits with ambitions on renewable energy, zero waste and environmental targets.

“Adapting anaerobic digestion to a cattle slurry feedstock is a challenge and there are costs to introducing a smart second generation technology like AD.  That is why underpinning AD output through the use of defined FiTs and perhaps supplementary Renewable Heat Incentives is fundamental to creating the platform for the required investment.

“NFU Scotland is firmly of the belief that if FiT rates for plants up to 250KW in size were re-instated at the levels they previously held there would be a generous return. Indeed, the 20 percent reduction for FiTs on anaerobic digesters is likely to put the technology’s uptake in Scotland and the UK into reverse.

“Farm level AD based on waste streams creates a very positive synergy with a spectrum of benefits. To ensure the benefits of AD are optimised it would be of real value if FiT rates were reinstated to drive the adoption of second generation technology based on farm waste streams.”  


Contact Bob Carruth on 0131 472 4006

Date Published:

News Article No.: 53/14

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