The renewables obligation does not provide subsidies to licensed electricity suppliers but instead places an obligation on them to source a specific and annually increasing proportion of their sales from renewable sources. Suppliers meet their obligation either by presenting renewable obligation Certificates (ROCs); by paying a buy-out price; or a combination of presenting ROCs and paying the buy-out price. Money from the buy-out fund is recycled pro-rata to suppliers presenting ROCs.
ROCs are issued to accredited generators for every 1 MWh of electricity generated from eligible renewable sources. The electricity must be generated within the UK and supplied to customers within the UK by a licensed electricity supplier, or used in another permitted way. The Renewables Obligation Order places no restrictions on who may own or operate a generating station or hold a supply licence.