UK set for anaerobic digestion boost with 500 plants in the pipeline

The anaerobic digestion sector in the UK will potentially double or triple its size between 2014 and 2019, a Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) report has found. 

From its origins in 2004 with just a handful of plants, anaerobic digestion had become an established industry by 2014. The report prepared by WRAP observes that in 2012, 105 anaerobic digestion plants processed 2.4 million tonnes of input into 120 MWel output capacity. Just two years later, there were 259 anaerobic digestion facilities processing 5.26 million tonnes of feedstock into 238 MWel of output capacity.

“This trend is set to continue with around 500 developments in the pipeline, to potentially double or triple the size of the sector between 2014 and 2019”, the report states. “However, this level of deployment is highly dependent on the policy landscape, reviewing of renewable energy incentives and access to suitable feedstocks.” 

WRAP’s ‘Organics recycling industry status report 2015’ aims to provide a snapshot of the status of the UK’s organics recycling industry in 2014, with additional information for 2015. Unlike WRAP’s previous reports on the industry, the latest utilised public and commercial databases and a small survey to glean its insights.

The report notes that in 2014 local authorities sent 314,516 tonnes of food waste to anaerobic digestion facilities in the UK. “Therefore, the majority (1.53 million tonnes) of food waste processed by anaerobic digestion facilities in England, Wales and Scotland came from commercial and industrial sources.”

Food waste is deemed an ‘untapped’ feedstock in the report, noting that around 4.45 million tonnes a year could be sent to anaerobic digestion facilities rather than landfill. “This means there is great potential to increase food waste collections, to help the anaerobic digestion industry grow.” The authors write.

The report was written by Caitlin Burns and Lucy Hopwood from Bioeconomy consultants NNFCC, with contributions from the Anaerobic Digestion and Biogas Association’s Ollie More and Matt Hindle.  

Source: Bioenergy Insight
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