18th October 2016 | Posted by: Daniel Birkett | Industry News

A large number of diesel generation schemes have qualified for subsidies via the Capacity Market scheme.

The UK's diesel power sector could be set undergo a major expansion after 246 new projects qualified for subsidies via the government's Capacity Market scheme. If approved, the combined capacity of the projects could potentially exceed that of the Hinkley Point nuclear power plant.

Analysts at Sandbag, an environmental think tank claim that diesel power schemes could be awarded up to £800m over a 15 year period from 2020, if their applications are as successful as previous years.

The Capacity Market  gives owners of new and existing power plants the opportunity to compete for funding, in return, successful projects would need to guarantee their availability to generate back up energy over winter periods. The scheme was initially intended to encourage low-carbon gas power stations, however, new diesel generators have been successful in undercutting their 'greener' competition.

Environmentalists have voiced their concerns about the potential boom, as diesel power generation creates large amounts of pollution. The UK has made efforts to deter this sort of generation but recent analysis shows that a record number of projects may have qualified for the latest round of funding.

Sandbag claims that over 330MW of applicants were small diesel projects, 1.1GW were registered as gas or diesel and around 2.5GW were undisclosed.

Although there is no guarantee that diesel generators will be awarded funding at the next auction, they have had a success rate of close to 75% in previous years. Last year, £175m worth of subsidies were awarded to 650MW of diesel power schemes over a 15 year period, starting from 2019. This figure could rise to £800m from 2020 if the 4GW of new diesel projects are successful.