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AstraZeneca, Future Biogas to build biomethane facility

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Pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca is partnering with Future Biogas to build a biogas plant in the UK.

The plant in East Anglia will generate biomethane as a substitute for natural gas to provide a renewable source of heat and power for AstraZeneca’s UK sites in Macclesfield, Cambridge, Speke, and Luton. The initiative will provide additional renewable gas to the UK gas grid.

Transitioning to 100% renewable energy for heat and power is core to AstraZeneca’s Ambition Zero Carbon commitment, to achieve zero carbon emissions from its operations by the end of 2025, and carbon negativity by 2030.

“We’re proud to be working in partnership with innovative organisations like Future Biogas to enable the sustainable discovery, development and manufacture of medicines and vaccines,” said Juliette White, vice-president of global SHE and operations sustainability, at AstraZeneca.

The plant will have the capacity to provide up to 125 GWh of biomethane, equivalent to the heating demand of 9,000 homes.

The facility will utilise crops grown locally to the site, supporting the rural economy. Feedstock crops are integrated into farm rotations and grown on farmland that already forms part of agricultural systems. Adding feedstocks grown for anaerobic digestion into the rotation offers farmers diverse cropping opportunities, boosting the sector’s sustainability and supporting the wider UK circular economy.

Crops will be grown with regenerative agriculture practices, promoting nutrient cycling through wider cropping rotations, minimising soil disturbance to limit carbon release from soils, and helping to build soil organic matter and soil health.

Philipp Lukas, CEO of Future Biogas, commented: “Future Biogas is delighted to be working with AstraZeneca on this ground-breaking green energy solution.

“AstraZeneca set itself a very ambitious and challenging net-zero target, which sets a benchmark for their sector as well as global corporates more widely. We’re proud to be able to help on this journey.”

Through the partnership with Future Biogas, AstraZeneca will access high-quality bioenergy with carbon capture and storage through the Northern Lights partnership in Norway, a joint venture supported by the Norwegian Government.

CO2 generated through the Future Biogas plant will be captured and transported to the Northern Lights storage facility, where it will be permanently sequestered 2.6 kilometres under the seabed. As a result, biomethane production could be not just net zero but net-negative.

Construction of the biomethane facility will begin in 2023.