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Sunday, 21 September 2014

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Government called on to stop stalling

AN ENERGY expert has warned the government must avoid stalling the industry in its review of feed-in tariffs.

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CONCERNS: Simon Rigby says the renewable energy sector is lacking confidence due to the government dithering on policy

Energy Minister Greg Barker has launched a review of subsidies paid for technologies other than solar panels. The review will include an examination of the feed-in tariffs paid for energy produced by anaerobic digestion (AD) – which expert Simon Rigby is championing with his Farmgen company.

Farmgen is a leading installer of anaerobic digesters – a “giant compost bin” which transforms unusable and waste vegetables and vegetation into biofuel to generate electricity.

The company, based near Preston, already has a number of interests in Cumbria and managing director Simon Rigby has revealed plans to install 55 similar plants across the county.

The government’s consultation on the review is set to end on April 26 and is expected to make energy tariffs more predictable.

Mr Rigby said: “The government’s stop-start approach and continual direction changing has done nothing to secure confidence in the future of renewable energy and has made it increasingly difficult to get investment decisions.

“This really is its final chance to get things right and to put in place measures that will bring confidence and a sense that there is a credible policy and direction from the government that is robust and will stand up to scrutiny.

“The mess it got itself into over the solar PV feed-in tariffs was extremely harmful to the whole of the renewable energy sector. It must not repeat the mistakes of the past.”

Feed in tariff rates for units under 250KW are 14p/kWh, but fall to 13p for those between 250KW and 500KW and 9.4p for those over 500KW.

Mr Rigby added: “Only last June we had the results of a consultation and to say it was disappointing is putting it mildly.

“The government did not act on the advice from those in the industry, advice that would significantly increase the AD sector, local businesses and renewable energy generation in this country.

“The increase in tariffs announced at that time was just too small to stimulate the AD market because the rates of return still failed to attract investors or banks.”

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