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Support schemes for biogas and biomethane in Flanders

biogas plant

Environment and (renewable) energy are regional competences. Hence, subsidies for biogas projects are regulated and decided on a regional level. This means that the system described in the following is only applicable to Flanders and not to the other two Belgian regions of Brussels and Wallonia.

As of 2022, biogas plants in Flanders can apply for financial support from the following institutions:

  1. Flemish Energy and Climate Agency (Vlaams Energie- en Klimaatagentschap – VEKA)
  2. Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (Departement Landbouw & Visserij)
  3. Public Waste Agency of Flanders (Openbare Vlaamse Afvalstoffenmaatschappij – OVAM)
  4. Federal Public Service Finance (Federale Overheidsdienst Financiën)
  5. Flemish Agency for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (Vlaio)

The Flemish Energy and Climate Agency is the main institution to subsidize biogas in Flanders. Biogas plants processing manure from livestock may receive additional support from the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries and biogas plants processing municipal food waste may receive additional subsidies from the Public Waste Agency of Flanders.

Subsidies from the Flemish Energy and Climate Agency (VEKA)

As of 2022, the Flemish Energy and Climate Agency gives two kinds of financial subsidies: operational subsidies in the form of certificates for green electricity and primary energy savings as well as investment subsidies. Only newly built projects can apply for these subsidies.

Operational subsidies – The certificate system

Biogas plants apply for certificates at the Flemish Energy and Climate Agency. They then receive certificates on a monthly basis. The amount of certificates depends on the so called bandingfactor. The bandingfactor (Bf) is awarded on plant basis for both green electricity and primary energy savings. They remain the same throughout the period the plant receives certificates. The bandingfactors are calculated annually by the Flemish Energy and Climate Agency and are meant to account for the operational cost of a plant as well as the investment necessary for making a plant financially feasible, i.e. the higher the investment with lower IRR, the higher the bandingfactor; the lower the investment and higher IRR, the lower the bandingfactor and hence less certificates. Each year the Flemish minister of Energy ratifies the final bandingfactor for each category. This final bandingfactor can have a lower value than the calculated one.

The certificates can be either sold to the distribution network operator for a predefined minimum price or to electricity suppliers for the price negotiated between the electricity producer and the supplier.

In fall 2019 the newly formed Flemish government announced to gradually decrease this form of subsidy and abolish it completely by 2025 (for renewable electricity) and 2030 (for cogeneration).

Certificates for green electricity (GSC) - Groenestroomcertificaten (GSC)

Since 2013 producers of electricity from biogas receive GSC based on the net produced renewable electricity (EGSC), expressed in MWh, and the bandingfactor (Bf). The bandingfactor is determined by the start date of the plant, the input material the biogas is produced from and the capacity of the engine used to produce electricity.

amount of GSC = EGSC x Bf

The net produced renewable electricity is calculated considering the share of renewable resources, and the energy needed for the transportation of the feedstock, the pretreatment of the feedstock, and the ancillary services for the electricity production. Alle energy parameters are expressed in MWh.

EGSC = G*(Ebruto – Eanc) – Epre – Etrp

Ebruto: the total electricity production

Eanc: energy required for the ancillary services of the electricity production, e.g. the cooling circuit of a combustion engine

Epre: energy required for the pretreatment of the feedstock

Etrp: energy required for the transport of foreign feedstock up to the border of Flanders

Overview of the final GSC-bandingfactors since January 2019

Input material Capacity (U) Start date on or after1
1.1.2022
Agricultural or industrial 10 kWe < U 5 MWe

0.72

5 MWe < U 20 MWe 0.72
Municipal food waste 10 kWe < U 5 MWe 0.72

1start date: submission date of the application for the operational subsidy.

Certificates for green electricity are awarded for a period of 17 years for plants starting from 2020 on. There is a maximum amount of certificates an installation can receive. The maximum amount of certificates is calculated as the theoretical maximum of certificates an installation could receive when operating for 15 years on full load.

New biogas installations, starting from 2021, will not receive GSC for the electricity produced during periods when the day-ahead prices on the Belgian spot market are negative for at least six consecutive hours. With this measure the Flemish government wants to stimulate the flexible production of electricity.

GSC can be sold either:

  • for a fixed minimum price of €93/GSC to the distribution system operator; or
  • for a bilaterally negotiated price to one of the electricity suppliers.
Certificates for primary energy savings (WKC) - Warmte-krachtcertificaten (WKC)

While GSC are awarded to renewable fuels only, certificates for primary energy savings (WKC) are awarded to combined heat and power (CHP) units run on fossil fuels as well. In this scheme it is not the generation of energy that is subsidized, but the fuel (expressed in MWh) saved by using a CHP unit compared to the fuel that would have been necessary for the separate generation of the same amount of heat (e.g. boiler) or electricity (e.g. electric power station). Basically the efficiency of the CHP unit is being rewarded. The subsidy is based on the fuel that was saved due to that increased efficiency. 

Amount of WKC = actual fuel savings (or primary energy savings) x WKC-Bf

Overview of the final WKC-bandingfactors since January 2019

Input material Capacity (U) New CHP/ substanially renewed CHP Start date on or after
1.1.2022
Agricultural or industrial 10 kWe < U 5 MWe New CHP 1
Substantially renewed CHP 1
5 MWe < U 20 MWe New CHP 1
Substantially renewed CHP 1
Municipal food waste 10 kWe < U 5 MWe New CHP 1
Substantially renewed CHP 1

 

Certificates are awarded on a monthly basis for a period of 10 years. If the plant is substantially renovated, the subsidy can be awarded again. A CHP unit is substantially renovated when the old engine is replaced after 10 years by a new engine.

New biogas installations, starting from 2021, will not receive WKC during periods when the day-ahead prices on the Belgian spot market are negative for at least six consecutive hours. With this measure the Flemish government wants to stimulate the flexible production of electricity.

WKC can be sold either:

  • for a fixed minimum price of €31/WKC to the distribution system operator; or
  • for a bilaterally negotiated price to one of the electricity suppliers.

Investment subsidies

VEKA-Investment Subsidy

Biogas plants with so called micro-CHP units can apply for this investment subsidy since 2018. It has been created because the administrative burden was deemed too high compared to the amount of subsidies such small-scale projects received under the certificate system. In order to be subsidised under this scheme the CHP-unit needs to be ≤ 10 kWe.

The costs related to the purchase and installation of the CHP unit and the digester are eligible, but limited to €4700/kWe. The share of the total costs that can be reimbursed by the subsidy, depends on the size of the enterprise. Only specific CHP-units are subsidised under this programme. The list of eligible technologies is updated periodically.

Share of eligble costs in relation to the size of the enterprise

  % of eligible costs
Small-sized enterprises or applicants that are not an enterprise 65
Middle-sized enterprises 55
Large enterprises 45
Maximum in €/kWe 4.700
 
Call for Green Heat - Call groene warmte

The call takes place at least once a year and is an investment subsidy for:

  • green heat;
  • residual heat;
  • heat networks.

Companies investing in the production of green heat with biogas, can apply for an investement subsidy if the project is not eligble for the certificate system. The maximum amount per green heat project is €1,000,000. Under this call SMEs receive more support than large enterprises as well (the same percentages apply as in previous table).

Applications are ranked according to cost-efficiency and anticipated CO2 reduction-efficiency (-CO2kg/€). The highest ranking application receives the amount it applied for. The remaining budget (in case there is any), is then awarded to the following rank and so on. At least one project, or if multiple projects applied, 10% of the lowest scoring projects are eliminated from the granting process. Per year one to two calls are launched.

Subsidies from the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries

VLIF-Investment Subsidy

This subsidy is exclusively for farming. Investments for equipment that increase the environmental performance of farms is subsidised with 40%. Equipment with the main purpose to generate renewable energy is subsidised with 30%.

Under this scheme the anaerobic digester itself is not subsidised, but peripheral equipment such as pumps or storage tanks for the digestate, etc. are subsidised. This subsidy operates with a list of eligible technologies which is updated every three months.

Subsidies for innovative projects in farming

Innovative projects that use technology that is not proven yet (and therefore not on the list of the list of eligible technology of the VLIF-investment subsidy) can apply for a 40% subsidy on the initial investment. The subsidy is capped with €200,000.

Subsidies from the Public Waste Agency of Flanders (OVAM)

Subsidies for local authorities

Local authorities can also receive 20% on their net investment (with an annual maximum of €1.5 million) for anaerobic digestion plants for organic waste from the Public Waste Agency of Flanders (OVAM).

Support from the Federal Public Service Finance

Investment deductions are available on profit made from investments on energy-saving measures. Depending on the specific circumstances the tax cuts can range from 3.5% to 20.5%. The aim is to increase efficiency on existing plants and to promote the use of renewable energy sources in general. This can be combined with all the aforementioned subsidies.

As finance is a federal competence, this is the only support mentioned in the presented overview that applies to the Brussels-Capital Region and the Walloon Region as well.

Support from the Flemish Agency for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (Vlaio)

Ecologiepremie +

The Flemish government awards companies who invest in climate-friendly technologies. Biogas produced from biomass or waste water is included on the limitative technology list which entitles to an investement support. The biogas has to be used for the production of process heat and not for the production of electricity. Only installed capacities of less than 1 MW biogas are elegible. SMEs receive up to 55% of the invesment, large companies a maximum of 45%.

Biogas-E is happy to answer any further questions and provide additional information upon request (info@biogas-e.be).

picture: ©Jan Nijman (pixabay)

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