UK AD capacity doubles in four years

The amount of organic waste treated by anaerobic digestion (AD) in the UK has more than doubled since 2010, saving five million tonnes of CO2, according to an update from the Anaerobic Digestion and Biogas Association (ADBA).

The AD market has grown rapidly since 2010, reaching a current electrical capacity of 154MW from 145 plants. This represents a year-on-year increase of between 26-32MW each year, or 20-30 new plants.

The market update was published on the first day (2 July) of the industry’s fourth annual exhibition and conference – UK AD & Biogas 2014 in Birmingham. At the launch of the conference, ADBA chief executive Charlotte Morton said: “In the four years since our first trade show the AD sector has seen unprecedented growth.

“In that time, over a hundred new AD plants have opened, more than trebling the number outside the water sector delivering over 150 MW of capacity to generate ultra-low carbon storable, base-load, flexible renewable gas, as well as saving well over five million tonnes of CO2, recycling nutrients essential to food production and creating jobs. Our members have delivered a very significant contribution to green growth in challenging conditions, which they should be very proud of.”

“AD developers still face plenty of challenges, but we are determined to continue to work with Government and our partners to overcome these and help the sector to build on the strong foundations which are now in place to ensure it delivers its full potential: 10% of the UK’s domestic gas demand, 35,000 green jobs, bio fertiliser worth £200 million, and in the process reducing the UK’s carbon emissions by over 2%.”

Legislative drive

The market update found that municipal and commercial waste plants made up the largest share of the market’s operational electricity and combined heat and power capacity with 43%. A further 36% capacity came from agricultural plants and 21% from industrial plants. In total 50% of all plants were in the agricultural sector.

Following the announcement of the new report, ADBA policy manager Matt Hindle added: “Food waste is on the political agenda, and the outcome of next year’s election could have a huge impact on the AD industry: will England follow Wales and Scotland in giving a stronger legislative drive to source segregation?”

The ADBA conference comes as the Green Investment Bank announced funding for two on farm AD plants in Northern Ireland on Tuesday (2 July). The £6.5m investment in the two projects is expected to provide power to 1,700 households.

Read the ADBA July 2014 market report here:

Matt Field

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