Anaerobic digestion plants that turn waste and purpose grown crops into energy have the potential to power more than 2.5 million UK homes by 2020, a new report by CentreForum suggests. Yet the think tank warns that this vision will only be realised if certain barriers to sector growth and development are removed.
The report ‘Hit the gas’ sets out a number of advantages to expanding the anaerobic digestion sector. It praises anaerobic digestion for generating a multi purpose biogas that is easy to transport and store, and for diverting food waste from landfill.
Anaerobic digestion currently produces around 1.3 TWh of energy in the UK – enough to power 300,000 homes. CentreForum believes that the sector can expand by more than 800 per cent (11 TWh or 2.5 million homes) over the next eight years if the recommendations of its report are followed.
Ed Davey, Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, says: “The government is committed to promoting an increase in energy from waste schemes through anaerobic digestion. CentreForum’s report offers some interesting ideas for how this increase can be achieved.”
Report co-author Quentin Maxwell-Jackson comments: “”Anaerobic digestion technology has so many clear advantages over other waste treatment and energy generation options that it is very surprising it has not taken off in a big way yet in theUK. But that is because trying to get an anaerobic digestion scheme up and running at the moment is like trying to win a cycle race with the brakes on.”
The report’s other author Thomas Brooks adds: “There are some simple things government can do to release the brakes on anaerobic digestion. For instance, simply banning organic waste to landfill inEngland, as they are already planning to do in Scotland, would give anaerobic digestion a huge boost.”
Lord Redesdale, Liberal Democrat peer and chairman of the Anaerobic Digestion and Biogas Association (ADBA), says: “CentreForum have shown that anaerobic digestion already represents a significant part of the UK’s renewable energy mix – generating four times more electricity than solar PV – and are pushing for government to support an 800 per cent increase in that generating capacity by 2020.”