AD will help keep the UK's lights on, says Huhne

Anaerobic digestion (AD) will help the UK to keep its lights on and provide energy security because it has the ability to supply power that can be easily switched on and off, according to former energy secretary Chris Huhne.

Former energy secretary Chris Huhne says that AD is a dispatchable source of renewable energy

Former energy secretary Chris Huhne says that AD is a dispatchable source of renewable energy

Speaking at the Anaerobic Digestion and Bioresources Association (ADBA) national conference at Westminster yesterday (9 December), Huhne, who is now a strategic advisor at ADBA, said that AD was not intermittent like renewable technologies such as wind and solar power.

He said: "AD and biogas are still one of the very few 'dispatchable' sources of renewable energy."

He said this means they are readily available to provide "base load" power, and can be turned on and off at will. This is because it is possible to build big enough storage facilities for AD produce. Huhne said that this would help to contribute to the UK's energy supply.

He added: "Being able to keep the light on and being able to ensure that people can go on carry watching Coronation Street when they want to, not just when the wind happens to be blowing or the sun happens to be shining,.... it's an enormous potential advantage that we need to get across."

He explained: "This is an extraordinary advantage in any developed economy as energy consumption can change 100% in one day."

Huhne said that this would also help to lower energy bills. He explained: "There is going to be a very crucial role for dispatchable renewables like AD."

Energy supply
Speaking to at the ADBA conference, Huhne said that supporting renewable technologies like AD will help to improve the security of the UK's energy supply.

He said: "The EU is really reliant on Russian gas. The more we generate our own biogas, the more independent we are from those imports and the potential for those being used, as we have seen in the past, as political leverage.

"There is a geopolitical incentive for us to think about energy security as well as the obvious benefits of renewables for reducing greenhouse gases. It's an important part of the argument."

Elsewhere, he said that running fossil fuel-based technologies were expensive. He explained: "It's important when making a case for any renewable technology and AD that we have to remember that there is actually a cost to running technologies that are based on fossil fuels and those costs are very substantial indeed."

He called for a system of carbon taxation where "we would have a carbon price which reflected the genuine cost of generating our electricity from such polluting sources".

Political outlook
Huhne also reiterated his view that the political outlook on green issues for the UK is "substantially more fractured now" than it was in 2010.

He said that in 2010 there all there was a cross-party consensus among the three political parties about the need to support renewables. However, he said that the Conservatives were currently "split" on green issues but Labour and the Liberal Democrats were "broadly committed to the green agenda".

Liz Gyekye
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