The Energy White Paper should mean better rewards for energy crops and new technologies like anaerobic digestion, according to the NFU

The White Paper, published on Wednesday (23 May), announced proposals for the Renewables Obligation to be banded in future which would mean technologies will be split into four groups and awarded differing numbers of Renewable Obligations Certificates (ROCs) per MWh of electricity generated.

This means emerging technologies will receive greater financial support than those that are already established and will result in increased support for anaerobic digestion, energy crops for heat and power, and significantly different support for co-firing of energy crops compared to ordinary (non-energy crop) biomass.

The proposed bands are:
• 0.25ROC/MWh: Sewage gas, landfill gas, co-firing of biomass
• 1.0 ROCs/MWh: Onshore wind, hydro-electric, co-firing of energy crops, CHP from waste
• 1.5ROCs/MWh: Offshore wind, dedicated biomass
• 2.0 ROCs/MWh: Anaerobic digestion, dedicated biomass with energy crops, dedicated biomass with CHP, solar, geothermal, wave and others.

Dorset farmer Owen Yeatman, who is at the forefront of developing on-farm anaerobic digestion systems, said: “It’s up to farmers now to maximise what is a great opportunity for us. This is going to help kickstart the industry.”

NFU president Peter Kendall said: “We have been calling for extra support for energy crops and anaerobic digestion and it is very rewarding to see this has been reflected in the White Paper.

“The White Paper reinforces the role biomass must play in the country’s future energy mix and should help create exciting new opportunities for farmers.”