UK’s AD capacity now greater than a nuclear power station
The UK's anaerobic digestion (AD) industry has surpassed the 500MW capacity milestone, with 411 plants across the farming, waste and water sectors.
New market figures from the Anaerobic Digestion and Bioresources Association (ADBA) showed that AD now provides more capacity than the Wylfa nuclear power plant in Wales, which is being decommissioned this year.
ABDA’s chief executive Charlotte Morton said: “This capacity is extremely valuable because AD generates low-carbon baseload or dispatchable power, helping to keep the lights on and balance the output from intermittent renewables such as wind and solar.
“The Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change has rightly said that providing baseload is one of her department’s priorities, and biogas should be seen as an important component to our energy security.”
However, Morton added that the continued growth of AD was threatened by recent Government decisions, including the removal of Levy Exemption Certificates (LECs) in the summer budget and a four-week consultation aimed at removing pre-accreditation from the Feed-in Tariff.
“To continue to expand the industry needs viable support in the forthcoming FIT review, and an RHI budget which will support new green gas”, said Morton.
“AD has the potential to meet 30% of UK domestic gas demand, and overall it could cut UK greenhouse gas emissions by 4% and support food security and production.”
Last month, ABDA reported that the sector had seen electricity generation from bioenergy surge by 40% from 2013-14.
According to figures announced by the Department of Energy and Climate Change, 7% of the UK’s total energy supply (including electricity, heat and fuel for transport) came from renewable sources in 2014. This is an increase from 5.6% in 2013, but still below the level required to meet binding EU targets of 15% by 2020.
The AD sector has come under some criticism from the Soil Association for the use of maize plants, which can damage soil for farming.