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Biogas capacity to power over 1 million UK homes

A new market report by the Anaerobic Digestion & Bioresources Association (ADBA) shows that anaerobic digestion (AD) plants across the UK now have enough capacity to power over a million homes. However, policy uncertainty is stymieing AD growth.

Delays in the passing of legislation for the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) has meant that there are currently at least 13 anaerobic digestion (AD) plants on hold.

Released during the UK AD & Biogas and World Biogas Expo event taking place at the NEC in Birmingham, the Anaerobic Digestion & Bioresources Association’s (ADBA’s) July 2017 Market Report shows that anaerobic digestion (AD) in the UK now has an installed biogas power capacity of 730 MWe equivalent.

The fact that AD can now power over a million homes is a great milestone to achieve, commented Charlotte Morton, Chief Executive ADBA during the release.

This represents an increase of 18 percent over this time last year, with total energy generation of 10.7 TWh per annum. Operational performance in the industry continues to improve, with load factors rising to 73 percent in 2016, up from 69 percent the previous year.

However, while it’s encouraging that the new Government has committed to the Paris Agreement and to meeting the UK’s Carbon Budgets, there is currently a desperate lack of long-term policy support for AD, particularly in heat and transport, areas where AD can make a significant contribution to decarbonisation, Morton said.

According to Morton, AD is currently reducing UK greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 1 percent and employing more than 3 500 people but with the right policy support, it has the potential to reduce emissions by 4 percent and employ 35 000 people. 50-80 new AD plants were commissioned in 2016 but this number is projected to fall to 19-64 in 2017 as a result of policy uncertainty.

Delays in the passing of legislation for the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI), which is set to restore tariff levels to 5.35 p/kWh, has meant that there are currently at least 13 AD plants on hold. Electricity generation from AD, meanwhile, is receiving next to no government support, with the Feed-In Tariff (FIT) for >500 kW plants down to just over 2p/kWh.

While there are 437 AD plants in the planning stage, most of these are unlikely to be built without stronger government support for AD. This is a huge wasted opportunity – the Government needs to act now to provide both short- and long-term certainty for the AD industry to enable it to deliver the green energy the Government urgently needs both to meet its legally binding climate change targets and for the UK’s energy security, said Charlotte Morton.

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