The Anaerobic Digestion and Biogas Association (ADBA) will write to Energy Secretary, Amber Rudd, to stress the benefits of biogas, following the announcement that the UK will phase out of coal-fired power stations by 2023.
Marking a major shift in UK energy policy, Rudd has prioritised support for indigenous sources of gas, as well as openly committing to offshore wind and a move towards “a smarter energy system.”
As part of the DECC policy “reset”, Rudd is expected to emphasise the importance of affordable measures to boost UK energy security by championing gas as “central to our energy secure future.”
ADBA said it will write to the Energy Secretary to stress that biogas can meet as much as 30% of domestic gas or electricity demand, reducing gas imports and providing secure baseload power.
Green gas will be vital to achieving secure supplies while meeting the carbon budgets the Secretary of State has committed to, it says.
ADBA’s Chief Executive, Charlotte Morton, commented: “There’s often an assumption that the choice facing our country is one between supporting renewable electricity or non-renewable gas stations.
ADBA – “AD can deliver the same, vital baseload electrical capacity as new nuclear; but cheaper and faster than Hinkley Point C”
“Baseload gas from anaerobic digestion (AD) is a cost-effective, green solution to the government’s energy security concerns that could match the capacity from coal-fired power – meeting either 30% of UK domestic gas or electricity demand. But much more than that – AD improves: farming resilience; food security; and employment and investment opportunities for rural economies.
“A Parliamentary report released yesterday shows that green gas represented 7% of the UK’s indigenous gas supply in 2014 – a colossal milestone for the biogas industry. The UK still needs 20TWh more renewable heat by 2020 to meet the government’s 12% target – AD could deliver a third of that.
“Ignoring the benefits of supporting renewable electricity growth now creates real risks, however. AD can deliver the same, vital baseload electrical capacity as new nuclear; but cheaper and faster than Hinkley Point C. Just as with new nuclear, however, for AD to achieve this feat it will require support for industry to scale and deliver this potential – we would therefore urge the Energy Secretary to re-consider the ill-advised proposals to severely limit future development under the Feed-in Tariff.”
New Energy Direction
The reaction from various stakeholders and operators has seen a mixture of praise for the decision to phase out coal and criticism for prioritising gas.
Reacting to Rudd’s speech, the Friends of the Earth said that phasing out coal is essential for the climate, “but switching from coal to gas is like an alcoholic switching from two bottles of whisky a day to two bottles of port… she is certainly taking UK energy policy in a new direction, “unfortunately it’s backwards to the 20th century.”
A more positive response came from environmentalist and former vice president of the U.S, Al Gore, who said the decision by to phase out unabated coal power stations by 2025 in the UK “sets an excellent and inspiring precedent as we head into COP21.”
Al Gore – “…the UK is demonstrating the type of leadership that nations around the world must take in order to craft a successful agreement in Paris and solve the climate crisis”
“With this announcement, the UK is demonstrating the type of leadership that nations around the world must take in order to craft a successful agreement in Paris and solve the climate crisis,” he said. “The UK has become the first major economy to set a clear date to phase out coal, and I am hopeful that others will follow suit as we repower the global economy with the clean energy we need for a sustainable future.”
Dr Jenifer Baxter, head of energy and environment at the Institution of Mechanical Engineers said that nuclear power generation also has a role to play.
“The announcement that all traditional coal-fired power plants will close by 2025 was expected but is a positive move,” she said. “However, although gas produces about half the amount of carbon emissions than coal, we should not look at building more gas power plants as a silver bullet solution to creating a secure, affordable and clean energy system.
“Increasing demand for natural gas will lead to other ‘difficult’ challenges in securing the gas network in the UK. This may include more imports and potentially greater use of shale gas.
“Nuclear power generation has a role to play, as this does not generate any direct carbon emissions at all, but does require significant investment into the safe and environmental management of whole cycle of nuclear fuel.
“The UK should be seen as a nation leading the development of a low carbon energy system for the future and to achieve this we need to invest much more into Research & Development of new generation of renewables and other low carbon energy.”