Growth of biomethane sector helps AD generate more energy than landfill gas

Latest figures from the Anaerobic Digestion and Bioresources Association (ADBA) reveal that the UK’s 540 anaerobic digestion plants now generate more energy than the landfill gas sector, and represent two per cent of UK gas production. The AD industry’s success in the past 12 months – during which time over 100 new plants have come on stream – can be largely attributed to the growth of the biomethane sector. With a total of 86 biomethane plants having applied for support under the RHI, the biomethane sector currently generates 2.6 TWh of energy, enough to heat 167,000 homes or the whole of Cardiff.

Putting green gas at the heart of UK energy policy

However, ADBA believes that with the right support, biomethane, or ‘green gas’, can deliver as much as 80 TWh – 30 per cent of household gas demand or sufficient fuel to power 80 per cent of lorries by 2030. Following the KPMG report on 2050 UK energy scenarios, and the integration of energy and industrial strategy into one government department, moving green gas up the political agenda to ensure this potential becomes reality will be high on the agenda at the ADBA National Conference 2016. Now in its eighth year, and taking place at One Great George Street, Westminster on 8 December, the conference will bring together industry, academia and policy makers to assess how the UK’s changing relationship with the world and the priorities of a new government can create future opportunities. Key speakers include Matthew Bell (Committee on Climate Change), Rt Hon Caroline Flint MP, Richard Court (National Grid), Chris Huhne (Former Secretary of State for Energy and Climate), Dr Richard Swannell (WRAP) and Iain Gulland (Zero Waste Scotland).

“AD-derived green gas is an important part of the UK’s energy mix as it performs two roles – it makes use of waste and is an environmentally sustainable fuel,” says Reed Landberg, Global Renewable Energy & Environment Team Leader for Bloomberg News, who will chair a panel debate on this subject. “The fact that AD is also a source of heat makes it more important still, as heat is currently centre stage in terms of UK energy policy.”

Deregulation of water sector creates opportunities

The future of the water sector will also be a key topic for debate. Ofwat’s Water 2020 offers a vision for greater deregulation, including around the treatment of sewage sludge, and although some experts believe that the water sector is already sufficiently developed, others feel this presents a real opportunity for the wider organic waste sector. “Today, more than 15 per cent of the total sewage sludge produced in England and Wales is not being treated by anaerobic digestion,” says Alison Fergusson, Principal Engineer, Water 2020 programme, Ofwat. “And this sludge is produced day in day out. Ofwat’s Water 2020 programme will make it easier for those interested in making the most of this bioresource to identify commercial opportunities and get into the business of treating sewage sludge and generating renewable energy from it.” Alison is part of an expert panel who will debate this topic in detail at the ADBA National Conference.

Alongside these industry hot topics, the event will also consider whether food retailers could be the saviour of small scale AD; what industry can learn from nature; why England is still lagging behind Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales in regard to separate food waste collections; and how the biomethane sector will develop between 2017-2021.

For the full programme and to book your place, go to adbioresources.org