UK: Farming sector leads 40% surge in electricity from biogas

The Department for Energy & Climate Change (DECC) recently released their annual Digest of United Kingdom Energy Statistics (DUKES), demonstrating a surge in anaerobic digestion capacity outside of the water industry from 164 MW in 2013 to 216 MW (32%) in 2014.

ADBA’s own analysis shows that these plants generated an increase of 287 GWh, 40% more electricity in 2014 (1,009 GWh) than in 2013 (722 GWh), more than was generated from sewage sludge in the water sector and for the first time breaking past 1 TWh of electricity. This is despite water companies also generating biogas more efficiently than ever, with electricity generation from sewage gas up by 11% from just a 5% increase in capacity.
This surge reflects a doubling in the number of farm-based plants to 147 and an increase in anaerobic digestion capacity for food waste highlighted by ADBA’s market report, published at the beginning of July.

ADBA’s market report also showed that there has been a real surge in deployment of biomethane plants generating gas for the grid in 2014-2015. This is not yet reflected in DECC’s figures, but 2015 statistics can be expected to highlight the growth impact from the additional biomethane production.
ADBA’s Chief Executive, Charlotte Morton, commented that the 40% leap in electricity generated by anaerobic digestion electrical capacity outside of the water industry in 2014 shows how the UK’s anaerobic digestion market has taken off over the past year.

She also remarked that, while the surge in biomethane this year will not be apparent until DECC publish their 2015 DUKES report, the overall growth in electrical capacity reflects the significant contribution the anaerobic digestion industry is now delivering towards the UK’s energy needs. As intermittent renewables such as wind and solar supply most of the electricity, anaerobic digestion complements their output through the generation of low carbon baseload or dispatchable power, helping to ensure meeting peaks in demand.
Finally, Mrs Morton addressed the latest issues regarding the UK’s anaerobic digestion landscape by stating the following:
“This strong progress is however now at serious risk as a result of recent hostile government policy, including: the surprise £11 million cut announced in the summer budget; uncertainty over the future of the Renewable Heat Incentive beyond next year; the sudden review of pre-accreditation in the Feed-in Tariff and ongoing cuts to incentive levels.
Without support to continue development, the anaerobic digestion industry will be unable to contribute to critical government targets.

The anaerobic digestion industry offers exceptional value for money since it delivers far more than just renewable gas: it has the potential to meet 30% of UK domestic gas demand, reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 4%, improve energy security by reducing reliance on energy imports and help keep farmers farming by offering diversification and low carbon biofertiliser, whilst creating a further 30,000 jobs. The industry is focused on improving performance and cutting costs to ensure that it could offer a major contribution to a UK bioeconomy worth potentially £100 billion, but to achieve that it will need continued Government support today.”
Source: ADBA
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