Ofgem issues decision on ROCs for biodiesel

By Erin Voegele | March 09, 2009
Web exclusive posted March 24, 2009, at 5:22 p.m. CST

Great Britain's Office of the Gas and Electricity Markets (Ofgem) recently issued its decision regarding whether or not electricity generated through the use of biodiesel or glycerin will eligible for Renewable Obligation Certificates (ROC) under the Renewables Obligation.

According to a decision document published by Ofgem in March, titled "Biodiesel, glycerol and the Renewables Obligation," electricity generated through the use of biodiesel that was manufactured using fossil fuel-based methanol will not be eligible for ROCs. However, ROCs may be issued for electricity generated from biodiesel manufactured with biomass-derived methanol or ethanol.

The decision document issued by Ofgem refers specifically to biodiesel produced using fossil fuel derived methanol and the glycerin coproduct of the biodiesel production process. The documents states that there are alternative methods that produce other fuels that are also referred to as biodiesel. Generators are encouraged to approach Ofgem to request obtaining ROCs for the use of biodiesel that is produced through a different process. These inquiries will be assessed on a case by case basis.

The biodiesel manufacturing processes and reagents that are not covered by this decision document include the use of bio-methanol or bio-ethanol in the production process, as well as biodiesel created from direct biomass-to-liquid conversion or the Fisher-Tropsh process.

The document also stated that while Ofgem considers it will be possible to issue ROCs on electricity generated from biodiesel and glycerin manufactured from biomass and biomass-derived alcohols, there is currently not sufficient evidence to either fully exclude or fully include electricity generated through the use of glycerin for ROCs. The document further stated that Ofgem will work with the industry to either allow the fuel to be fully eligible to earn ROCs, or issue ROCs on a proportion of the electricity produced through the use of glycerin.

The Renewables Obligation currently requires licensed electricity suppliers in England and Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland to source an increasing portion of electricity from renewable sources. In 2008-'09 the obligation required that 9.1 percent of electricity produced for England, Wales and Scotland be sourced from renewable resources. The requirement for Northern Ireland is 3 percent. In 2009-'10 the requirement for England, Wales and Scotland is 9.7 ROCS for every 100 megawatt hours of electricity. The requirement for Northern Ireland is set at 3.5 ROCs for every 100 megawatt hours of electricity that is supplied.
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