AD sector doubles in 2016 as Ecotricity targets fracking sites for new green gas plants

Britain now has almost 90 plants injecting green biomethane into the gas grid - nearly double the number in operation this time last year, according to a new report.

The growth in AD plants gives the UK more capacity to recycle food waste, more sustainable farming and wastewater treatment, more low-carbon baseload electricity, and more green gas in the grid

The growth in AD plants gives the UK more capacity to recycle food waste, more sustainable farming and wastewater treatment, more low-carbon baseload electricity, and more green gas in the grid

The 2015-2016: When Gas Turned Green report by the Anaerobic Digestion and Bioresources Association (ADBA) reveals that the total number of operational anaerobic digestion (AD) plants has increased from 424 a year ago, to 540 today.

Moreover, the growing AD industry has the potential to potential to provide almost all of Britian's household gas by 2020, thanks in part to the success of the Government's Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) subsidy scheme, ADBA says.

"In 2015 and 2016, green gas has gone mainstream, with biomethane now heating around 170,000 homes in the UK without the householder needing to do anything differently themselves," said ADBA chief executive Charlotte Morton.

"Biomethane-to-grid is a real success story for the RHI, and we look forward to the Government setting out its plans for the next phase of the support scheme.”

With the growth in the number of operational AD plants comes greater recycling capacity to recycle food waste; more sustainable farming and wastewater treatment, more low-carbon baseload electricity, and more green gas in our grid, ADBA claims. So far, AD has already reduced the UK's annual greenhouse gas emissions by nearly 1%.

But despite the continued growth of AD, ADBA is concerned about future green policy changes stifling industry growth. ADBA suggests that the feed-in tarrif (FiT) subsidy budget should be boosted to maximise the potential of AD, with Morton continuing:

"Incentives for renewable electricity are heavily restricted, which is a huge missed opportunity," Morton added. "With the right support the biogas industry could deliver 250MW of new generation capacity over the next two years – enough to add 10% to our tight winter 2018 capacity margin and bring benefits to farming, recycling and the economy.

"BEIS should urgently address the FiT budget to boost investment in this vital infrastructure for reliable baseload power."

Grass is greener

Meanwhile, as fracking projects are given the go-ahead despite local council and people’s rejection, green energy provider Ecotricity has this week put in planning applications for green gas mills on proposed fracking sites to “challenge the shale gas industry”.

As edie's sister title Utility Week reported, Ecotricity has applied to construct green gas mills at two potential fracking sites in Lancashire: Preston New Road, which was rejected by Lancashire Council but approved by the Government; and Roseacre Wood, which was also rejected by Lancashire councillors but is expected to be approved by the Government.

The applications are part of a wider strategic campaign from Ecotricity to prevent shale gas exploitation, highlight the lack of democracy in the planning process and illustrate there is an alternative way to produce gas.

The company recently won planning permission to build its first green gas mill in Hampshire – one of six sites in development.

Alex Baldwin


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