UK: Anaerobic digestion & Biogas industry ready to ‘Step on the Gas’ as it passes milestone

ADBA’s new detailed Market Report, published at UK AD & Biogas 2015, has shown that Biogen’s new food waste plant in South Wales marks a major milestone: the industry’s 400th operational anaerobic digestion plant.

The Market Report provides a comprehensive analysis of the development and potential of the anaerobic digestion industry in the UK. As well as details of the 400 operational plants, it shows:

  • 60-100 new plants are likely to be commissioned in 2015, following a year of huge growth in 2014 during which 102 plants were commissioned;
  • 1.6 million tonnes of food waste are now being recycled through anaerobic digestion compared to 0.3-0.4 million tonnes in 2010, but waste policy in England is holding up investment compared to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland;
  • The surge in biomethane to grid projects is continuing – but there is uncertainty around new plants after April 2016, while the industry waits for a decision on future funding for the RHI;
  • There will be a significant fall in sub-500 kWe FIT plants in 2015 compared to 2014 – but still more than in 2013 or any year before that;
  • The sector faces real challenges from 2016, but with reasonable policy changes the sector could still deliver at least 500 more plants by 2020;
  • AD already brings in at least £50 million-£100 million to the UK in exports, and employs 4,500 people;
  • The industry has the potential to deliver 30% of the UK’s domestic gas demand;
  • Or to fuel 60% of the UK’s bus fleet; and
  • Anaerobic digestion could reduce the UK’s total greenhouse gas emissions by 4%.


ADBA’s Chief Executive, Charlotte Morton, announced the milestone achievement in her opening remarks in the conference at today’s UK AD & Biogas 2015:

Since the first UK AD & Biogas trade show five years ago, the industry has quintupled outside of the water sector. Across all anaerobic digestion’s sectors the industry now has a combined electrical equivalent capacity (electricity and biomethane) of almost 480 MW – equivalent to the capacity of one of the UK’s nuclear power plants, Wylfa, being decommissioned this year.   

But this is just the start – now is the time to step on the gas. With a favourable outcome from key policy decisions that need to be taken by the new government, ADBA’s market forecast estimates that industry could reach 500 plants by the end of the year and then potentially more than double by 2020. 

Anaerobic digestion integrates particularly well into farming, making farmers more resilient against fluctuating agricultural markets, supporting food production and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. There is enormous potential for on-farm anaerobic digestion to continue to grow over the coming years, with the right policy support.  

One of the most notable developments over the last year has been the rapidly developing biomethane market, with 33 gas-to-grid plants now in operation. Biomethane helps decarbonise heating without the need for new infrastructure, and has a particular role in transport where there are few other options for heavy goods vehicles.

The anaerobic digestion industry is already supporting 4,500 green jobs and generating a UK exports market in anaerobic digestion technology and expertise worth £100 million.

Source: ADBA
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