AD: A Challenging Year, An Exciting Future

Posted in: bioenergy

Despite a slow start to the year, the future for AD looks promising.

By 2050, it is expected that the UK will have reached net-zero carbon emissions. Since the introduction of the Climate Change Act, the UK has made considerable progress towards emission reduction, and a lot of this progress has come from the decarbonisation of the electricity we use. In order to reach net-zero, the scope for decarbonisation will have to expand, in particular in the heat sector.

Power from anaerobic digestion (AD) facilities goes some way towards the UK’s decarbonisation efforts and the advantages are multifaceted. Heating in the UK takes up a vast amount of energy, and low-carbon heating options expected to be part of the solution include biogas upgraded to biomethane for grid injection. In addition to this greening of the gas grid, processing of biodegradable wastes helps to decarbonise the waste sector and encourage a circular economy.

A slow start to the year

Currently there are 579 operational AD plants in the UK, with 331 AD projects under development. Between April 2019 and April 2020, only 7 new plants commissioned, despite 47 plants being under construction in April 2019, but this isn’t a fair reflection of the where the industry is at. A lot of the slow start to 2020 can be attributed to poor weather conditions and the Covid-19 pandemic, which has meant many AD facilities have not reached or finalised the commissioning phase when expected. In addition, food waste collections were halted temporarily and the hospitality sector was forced to shut down when the pandemic hit earlier in the year, and as a result a lack of feedstock has been issue for some AD facilities.

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This article was written by Polly-Ann Hanson, Research Analyst at NNFCC.

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