With a supportive policy environment, anaerobic digestion (AD) technology could produce 8 billion m3 biomethane/year, enough to heat 6.4 million homes, by 2030, according to a new report from the industry group ADBA.
This would deliver a 6% reduction in total UK greenhouse gases emissions, specifically within the hard-to-decarbonise sectors of heat, transport, waste management and agriculture, and 30% of the reduction needed by 2030 to meet our legally binding carbon budget.
The industry would directly create 30,000 green jobs and become a leading exporter of innovation, technology and professional expertise.
The report sets out the pathway to full deployment by 2030 and identifies policy asks to stimulate growth.
On 3 March Alan Whitehead MP hosted the launch of “Biomethane: the pathway to 2030”, a major report by the Anaerobic Digestion and Bioresources Association (ADBA), which highlights the potential for biomethane to cut emissions in the hardest to decarbonise sectors of the UK economy such as heat, transport, waste management and agriculture, and achieve the country’s Net Zero target.
Fully deployed, the biomethane industry could deliver a 6% reduction in the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 – a third of the 5th Carbon Budget target – and provide heating for 6.4 million homes. It would also create tens of thousands of jobs, boost energy and food production security, attract investment into the green economy and enhance Britain’s competitiveness on the international sustainable technology market.
Unlocking this potential however requires a supportive policy environment and the report identifies the key policy asks that will enable the industry to flourish:
- immediate support for biomethane production beyond 2021
- extension of the Renewable Transport Fuel Obligation beyond 2032
funding for innovation
- establishment of resource hierarchies for all organic wastes with AD as the optimal recycling technology
- development of a renewable biofertiliser obligation
- support for local circular economy projects around food waste recycling through AD into heat and power generation
Charlotte Morton, ADBA Chief Executive, says: “Our sector has seen periods of very strong growth in the last decade as a direct result of supportive policy, but this has stalled in recent years due to the withdrawal of support. The next ten years, dubbed the climate decade, are our last chance to reverse the climate crisis. To reach its full potential by 2030 and make a real impact, the industry must grow faster than it has ever done. We therefore need robust and immediate support from government to capitalize on the sector’s wide-ranging environmental and social benefits, and to unlock a commercially viable, world-class AD industry with goods, services and expertise that can be exported around the world. In the face of the climate emergency, AD is not an option, it’s a necessity, and a technology that needs to be fully deployed NOW to create the healthy environment and healthy green economy that the UK needs.”
The report has been sponsored by Air Liquide, Privilege Finance and SNG.
Chris Winward, Chief Commercial Officer at Privilege Finance, commented: “Now is the time for us to ensure policy makers understand the potential for energy from waste technologies to contribute towards achieving net zero and the creation of a more circular economy. Sending waste to landfill that could be used for energy production needs to be seen as socially unacceptable. Existing anaerobic digestion technologies offer a solution to both the problem of producing materials that ultimately end up in landfill, and the need to decarbonise our energy system.”
John Morea, CEO of SNG, said: “The injection of further biomethane into the gas network is key to decarbonise heating through the 2020s and involves no disruptive changes for customers. We hope this report will raise the profile of the potential for biomethane to deliver a third of the carbon savings necessary to meet the UK’s legally binding fifth carbon budget and allow for the necessary policies to be introduced from when the Renewable Heat Incentive ends in March 2021.”
David Smith, Chief Executive of Energy Networks Association, said: “We welcome this report that clearly shows the benefits of biomethane and anaerobic digestion which must play a critical role in helping us get to net zero. They are good for the environment, good for the economy and good for the public who will benefit from a low carbon, low cost energy system. In the run-up to COP 26 this year, what we now need is a commitment to roll-out the world’s first zero-carbon gas grid.”