UK digestion industry moves to 100 not out

Research conducted by bioeconomy consultants NNFCC and WRAP has placed the number of anaerobic digesters (AD) in the UK, outside of the water industry, at over 100 for the first time.

The number of facilities has nearly doubled since September 2011 and totals 106, processing over 5 million tonnes of food and farm waste a year.

‘This is a significant milestone for this industry in the UK and highlights the broad range of companies turning to AD for waste management and to generate renewable heat and electricity,’ says Lucy Hopwood, head of biomass and biogas at NNFCC.

‘Recent actions and innovations in technology development, training and process optimisation have led to greater opportunities and a more robust industry. For investors, AD is an easy win with good returns, support from a number of government incentives and low investment risk.’

The research also points to ‘more than a dozen’ other facilities currently under construction too.

Nearly half of the AD plants currently in operation are 'community' digesters, where food waste is collected from multiple sources to be converted into heat, power and fertiliser.

A further 30% use 'agricultural' feedstocks like slurry, manure, crops or residues. The remaining digesters are 'industrial' sites treating on-site waste such as brewery effluent and food processing residues.

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