Having already engaged in a bonfire of green energy subsidies, the UK government is to turn its fire on anaerobic digesters.
There are about 300 anaerobic digesters in the UK; 200 of them on farms, where they use animal and plant waste to produce methane and fertiliser. The methane is either burned to generate electricity or processed and fed into the gas supply. As a result of government subsidies to build the plants, there are as many as 500 anaerobic digesters in development. But all this looks set to change, according to Emily Gosden at the Telegraph:
“DECC plans to remove subsidies for big new AD plants and cut support for smaller new plants.”
The planned cuts are not just a body blow for renewables – they also undermine a farming sector that is already struggling in the face of low food – and especially dairy – prices. In addition to those farms that operate anaerobic digesters, around 1,000 farms generate an income from supply the plants with agricultural waste:
“Farmers’ union the NFU has warned the changes could sound the “death knell” for new biogas on farms.”
DECC claims that renewable energy subsidies are being cut to provide the best return on investment to taxpayers – a claim that will ring hollow given the huge public subsidies that have been given to fossil fuels in general, and shale gas in particular.