UK's AD and biogas industry reaches key green energy milestone

by Search Gate staff. Published Wed 01 Jul 2015 11:46
Time to step on the gas with AD power
Time to step on the gas with AD power

A new food waste plant in South Wales marks a major milestone for the UK renewable energy sector as it becomes the industry’s 400th operational anaerobic digestion (AD) plant.

The achievement was revealed in ADBA’s new detailed Market Report, published at UK AD & Biogas 2015, which provides a comprehensive analysis of the development and potential of the AD industry in the UK.

As well as details of the 400 operational plants, the industry study shows:

• 60-100 new plants are likely to be commissioned in 2015, following a year of huge growth in 2014 during which 102 plants were commissioned

• 1.6 million tonnes of food waste are now being recycled through AD compared to 0.3-0.4 million tonnes in 2010, but waste policy in England is holding up investment compared to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland

• The surge in biomethane to grid projects is continuing – but there is uncertainty around new plants after April 2017, while the industry waits for a decision on future funding for the RHI

• There will be a significant fall in sub-500 kWe FIT plants in 2015 compared to 2014 - but still more than in 2013 or any year before that

• The sector faces real challenges from 2017, but with reasonable policy changes the sector could still deliver at least 500 more plants by 2020

• AD already brings in at least £50m-£100m to the UK in exports, and employs 4,500 people

• The industry has the potential to deliver 30% of the UK’s domestic gas demand

• Or to fuel 60% of the UK’s bus fleet; and

• AD could reduce the UK’s total greenhouse gas emissions by 4%.

ADBA’s Chief Executive, Charlotte Morton, announced the milestone achievement in her opening remarks in the conference at today’s UK AD & Biogas 2015.

She told delegates: “Biogen’s sixth AD plant, unveiled last month, marks an industry milestone with 400 plants currently in operation and more coming online each month.

“Since the first UK AD & Biogas trade show five years ago, the industry has quintupled outside of the water sector. Across all AD’s sectors the industry now has a combined electrical equivalent capacity (electricity and biomethane) of almost 480 megawatts – equivalent to the capacity of one of the UK’s nuclear power plants, Wylfa, being decommissioned this year.

“But this is just the start – now is the time to step on the gas. With a favourable outcome from key policy decisions that need to be taken by the new government, ADBA’s market forecast estimates that industry could reach 500 plants by the end of the year and then potentially more than double by 2020.

“AD integrates particularly well into farming, making farmers more resilient against fluctuating agricultural markets, supporting food production and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. There is enormous potential for on-farm AD to continue to grow over the coming years, with the right policy support.

“One of the most notable developments over the last year has been the rapidly developing biomethane market, with 33 gas-to-grid plants now in operation. Biomethane helps decarbonise heating without the need for new infrastructure, and has a particular role in transport where there are few other options for heavy goods vehicles.

“The AD industry is already supporting 4,500 green jobs and generating a UK exports market in AD technology and expertise worth £100 million.”

The industry’s 400th plant, Biogen’s Bryn Pica site located in South Wales, is the third project to be delivered as part of the company’s ongoing partnership with the Welsh Government. The 22,500 tonne site, commissioned in June 2015, is now exporting 1.2MW to the grid. The site will take predominantly household waste, but is also geared up to process commercial and industrial waste streams to produce renewable energy and biofertiliser.

Julian O’Neill, Biogen’s Chief Executive Officer, said: “I am delighted to see the successful commissioning of our sixth plant which has been delivered on time and to budget. There has been a tremendous partnership with the local authority throughout and, as always, an outstanding level of commitment and contribution from the Biogen team and all our subcontractors.

“As a board member at ADBA, I am equally proud to see the industry reaching the milestone of 400 plants in the UK – a fantastic achievement by all those who have been part of this journey.”



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