The announcement follows approval from the European Commission under its State Aid rules, that electricity generated from landfill gas in Northern Ireland can receive four times the support currently offered in the rest of the UK under the Renewables Obligation.
Welcoming the Commission’s approval, the Minister said “This is good news for Northern Ireland. It will help to fully achieve our potential to generate electricity from landfill gas, providing us with an alternative and reliable source of electricity.
“Landfill gas generation in Northern Ireland is currently less advanced and more costly than in Great Britain, so it is important that we put in place a level of support that will allow us realise its benefits as a renewable energy source.”
Support for renewables development in Northern Ireland is provided by way of Renewables Obligation Certificates (ROCs) issued under the Northern Ireland Renewables Obligation (NIRO). These ROCs currently trade at around £50 and are awarded to generators for each unit of output according to type of generation or renewable source used.
The NIRO operates alongside two similar Obligations in Great Britain, one for Scotland and one for England and Wales. Generally there is a high degree of consistency between the three Obligations and the ROCs from all three trade on a UK-wide basis.
When differing levels of support were introduced in April this year to take account of the costs of the renewable source or technology involved, GB decided to reduce the support for landfill gas generation to one-quarter (0.25) of a ROC for each megawatt-hour of output. This applied across the UK, however the Commission has now granted State Aid clearance to permit the one ROC level of support for Northern Ireland projects.
Commenting on the importance of this support under the NIRO, Arlene Foster said: “Since its introduction in 2005, the NIRO has proved successful in bringing forward new renewables developments, primarily wind, to the extent that over 8% of our electricity consumption now comes from indigenous renewable sources.
“This enhanced support for landfill gas in Northern Ireland will help add to that success. It is also an example of how we can tailor our energy policy to provide solutions that are right for Northern Ireland. I will be bringing forward an amendment to the NIRO legislation to provide for this change as soon as possible.”