ADBA: UK eyes biogas boom

With the support of the new UK coalition government anaerobic digestion (AD) and biogas as a means of energy is set to boom, meet climate change targets and could eventually produce a massive 7 terawatts of energy.

Anaerobic digestion, a natural process where organic matter is converted into energy, is the only renewable energy to be named a top priority by the new government, Lord Redesdale, Chairman of the Anaerobic Digestion and Biogas Association (ADBA), states ahead of the first UK AD & Biogas 2010 conference and exhibition in Birmingham UK, from 7-8 July.

‘AD has made the top renewable priorities list of the new government as it is one of the few clean energies that is scalable and is forecast to replace 20% of the UK’s domestic gas needs,’ Lord Redesdale explains.

There are currently 500 AD plants in the water sector in operation in the UK, and ADBA targets the construction of another 500 by 2020 at a cost of £2-5 billion (€2.45-6.12 billion), which will be funded by the private sector.

To date legislation has been an obstacle to growth. Two subsidies, the feed-in tariff (FIT) and the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) have not been met positively.

The Committee on Climate Change has confirmed that the Government’s Climate Change targets will not be met without anaerobic digestion, however in February 2010 the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) reduced the level of support for anaerobic digestion from the figure of 11p/kwh published in the summer 2009 consultation document to 9p/kwh (for plants above 500kW), which is less than the current trading value for anaerobic digestion under the Renewable Obligation Certificate (ROC) scheme.

Despite extensive consultation with ADBA and other industry organisations, the FIT level for small scale AD plants (less than 500kW) remains unchanged at 11.5p/kWh. At this level of support there is no incentive for AD operators to move from the current ROC scheme to the new FIT, which was supposed to support smaller scale plants (less than 5MW) looking for a simpler alternative to ROCs.

DECC is supporting wind generation, which now attracts over four times the current ROC support, photovoltaics and hydro but not anaerobic digestion, ADBA says. The RHI is currently under consultation.

ADBA’s first event will bring the sector together in highlighting the issues around regulations, subsidies and finance. More than 75 companies will be exhibiting their products, services and technologies at the event.

Nine out of ten houses run on gas in the country and within four years the UK will import over 80% of its gas. Redesdale concludes that this problem of energy security can be solved by anaerobic digestion and biogas.

Find out more at www.adbiogas.co.uk/

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