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Biomethane for transportation continues to grow in the UK

Earlier this month, the UK Department for Transport published the latest biofuel statistics from the Renewable Transport Fuel Obligation (RTFO) current reporting period (11), from April 2018 to April 2019. This dataset covers until December 2018 and, according to the Anaerobic Digestion & Bioresources Association (ADBA), shows a strong increase in the volume of biomethane when compared with previous periods.

Digestate at a UK biogas plant. According to ADBA, the digestate from an average 50 000 tpa anaerobic digestion (AD) plant based on food waste is worth around GBP221 000 (≈ EUR 251 147).

According to the UK Department for Transport figures, in these eight months, 7.6 million liters of biomethane were supplied to the market in comparison with the 6 million provided in the previous full reporting period. This makes up to 0.7 percent in comparison with 0.37 percent last reporting period and 0.04 percent in the preceding one.

While 7 of this 7.6 million liters come from food waste through anaerobic digestion (AD), only 0.3 comes from local food waste, while almost 5 million has been imported from Sweden. Other feedstocks include husks and roadside grass, also from Sweden and Austria.

With a carbon intensity of 18 grams of carbon dioxide (CO2) equivalent per megajoule (MJ), this represents a greenhouse gas (GHG) saving of 78 percent due to the replacing fossil fuels. All feedstocks producing biomethane are double counted for the purpose of the RTFO.

The rolling out of separated food waste collection around England would make millions of tonnes of food waste available from biomethane production in the UK. ADBA’s estimations are about 80 new food waste plants of an average size of 50 000 tonnes-per-annum could be commissioned, with a 187 MWe-e of new combined capacity.

This would require an estimated GBP860 million (≈ EUR 977.4 million) investment, 2 500 temporary and 500 permanent jobs. A GBP221 000 (≈ EUR 251 147) worth of digestate in each of the 80 food-waste AD plant can increase soil fertility around the country.

The final data for this reporting period will be published in November 2019.

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