PROPOSED changes to the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) should be good news for the anaerobic digestion sector.

Ben Harrison, senior energy specialist at Carter Jonas, the national property consultancy, said last week’s announcement regarding cuts to large scale onshore wind and solar had overshadowed the more positive changes to the non-domestic RHI scheme which provides financial support for commercial and industrial companies to generate green heat.

Large biomass boilers of more than 1MW, deep geothermal, ground source heat pumps, and solar thermal are all seeing increased levels of support under the announcement.

New support is also being introduced for air source heat pumps and energy from waste, biomass CHP and biogas combustion of more than 200kWth.

Mr Harrison said: “These improved and extended tariffs show that the government takes seriously the impact that renewable heat technologies can have on meeting the current CO2 reduction targets.

“In particular, the announcements are good news for the Anaerobic Digestion industry, as it means that larger scale plants will now be eligible for the RHI for the renewable heat produced by their CHP plants.

“Alongside the recently announced review of the proposed cuts to the Feed-in Tariff (FIT) for small scale anaerobic digestion (AD) in January, this is likely to lead to significant growth of this low impact renewable technology across the UK’s farms in 2014.”

However the Country Land and Business Association (CLA) was disappointed that grants for insulating properties are to be cut. Douglas Chalmers, CLA North director of policy and public affairs, said the cutting of the Community Emissions Reduction Obligation grant for traditional houses, announced in the Autumn Statement, meant many would now fail to reach the required minimum energy performance level by 2018.

“We do however welcome the Chancellor’s decision to extend the doubling of Small Business Rate Relief (SBRR) until April 2015 and to boost support for small businesses by introducing a £1,000 discount against business rates bills for retail premises.

“Regardless of the news of a recovering economy, our smaller businesses need all the help they can get until this recovery rolls out nationwide.

Rural businesses must be able to reap the rewards.”