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Number of UK biomethane plants could quadruple by 2021

The announced £1.15 billion allocation for the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) budget by 2021 could quadruple the number of UK biomethane plants.

The forecast, released by the Anaerobic Digestion and Bioresources Association (ADBA), says that the Chancellor George Osborne’s spending review could support the construction of an additional 140 biomethane plants.

These plants represent a fourfold increase on current numbers and with the combined potential to heat almost 500,000 homes.

According to the ADBA research, biomethane deployment is set to build upon record growth since last December, which has witnessed a quadrupling of plant numbers from 10 to 40.

ADBA CEO Charlotte Morton argues that the AD industry has a strong case in its hands.

‘Not only will the additional 140 biomethane plants provide a source of indigenous gas, reducing our dependence on natural gas imports from volatile parts of the world and creating thousands of manufacturing jobs, but will do so by generating value from municipal waste otherwise destined for expensive landfill, and by supporting farming resilience through improved food production and resource management,’ Morton says.

If a reasonable proportion of the RHI budget is allocated to AD and the scheme structure is workable, then ADBA forecasts that there could be 180 biomethane plants in operation by 2021.

However, Morton points out that nothing is ‘set in stone yet’, and all depends on how the government decides to allocate the funding.

‘Ultimately the devil’s in the detail and so we’re seeking clarification from the Department of Energy and Climate Change on how available funding will break down on a technology-by-technology basis,’ she says.