UK urged to build up biogas supplies to avert blackouts

The Government is being called upon to utilise biogas generated from anaerobic digestion to tackle possible blackouts in the future.

The follows a warning from power regulator Ofgem last week that Britain could face a battle to keep the lights on in the next three to four years due to the closure of coal and oil-fired plants.

The lack of a clear investment strategy in the UK for renewables to plug the gap should such a shortfall emerge, together with ongoing uncertainty over the proposed electricity market reforms (EMR), has left many in the industry concerned.

The Anaerobic Digestion & Biogas Association (ADBA) is now urging ministers to review the potential role that biogas could play in warding off possible power outages and price hikes.

ADBA chief executive Charlotte Morton argued that biogas from anaerobic digestion (AD) along with investment in other renewables would help diversify the UK energy market and significantly increase generation capacity within the timescale needed and at relatively low cost.

"Faced with the prospect of spare generation capacity falling 10% in three years and unprecedented increases in electricity prices, the Government needs to invest strategically in alternative energy sources," she said.

"AD can be scaled up fast and cheaply and with the right support could generate 40TWh of biogas, equivalent to 10% of the UK's domestic gas demand."

According to Morton, the EMR and Energy Bill need to both address issues of coherent support for financial incentives in line with the benefits of low carbon generation - not just security and supply.

"It is important to ensure that future generation capacity not only meets our energy requirements but that the carbon footprint of electricity is reduced as well," she maintained.

Earlier today in his first speech as Environment Secretary, Owen Paterson pledged his support for the AD industry, in particular the role it could play in diverting food waste from landfill.

However he was less enthused by other feedstock channels and referred to the "unintended consequences" of renewable technology, notably the land impacts of growing crop maize specifically for AD.

"In my part of the world ... dairy farmers are being outbid for land by those who want to grow maize specifically for anaerobic digestion. They risk upsetting the delicate balance of interests that underpins our living, working countryside."

Maxine Perella


anaerobic digestion | EMR | Food waste | ofgem


Waste & resource management
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