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Consultation launched over restricting RHI funds for biomass combustion

Proposals put forward by government as part of Clean Air Strategy would restrict financial support for biomass installations in urban areas on the gas grid; biogas systems would still get funding however

A new consultation is seeking feedback on government proposals to block supporting biomass combustion installations through the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) for urban properties that are on the gas grid.

Under the proposals, both new domestic and non-domestic biomass installations would be exempt from RHI. This would also apply to biomass combined heat and power (CHP) systems when they are installed in an urban area connected to the national grid. This would be based on current Office of National Statistics (ONS) classifications.

Biogas

However, the proposals said that biogas solutions would not be included as part of the restriction based on the technology having different levels of particulate and pollutant emissions compared to biomass combustion.

Views are now being sought over introducing these proposed changes to the RHI in line with aims set out in the Clean Air strategy published earlier this year. Interested parties have until November 27 to respond to the proposals.

Respondents are also being asked for their views on whether larger biomass plants should be included or excluded from receiving RHI support when considering the planning controls and tighter emissions standards they are subject to, as well as the pollutants emitted from their use.

The biomass restrictions apply exclusively to new applications, although the proposals do suggest tighter monitoring of systems currently in use across the UK.

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) said in the consultation document, “There is anecdotal evidence that some existing RHI biomass installations emit pollutants to air at far higher levels than those specified by the applicable emission standards.”

“One reason for this is the use of inappropriate fuels such as wood that is wet or contaminated. Another is equipment that is not maintained properly, resulting in its environmental performance reducing over time. This consultation, therefore, seeks views on whether mandatory maintenance checks for existing and new installations should be introduced into the RHI.”

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