Biogas key to addressing energy & climate crisis, says anaerobic digestion trade body


In letters welcoming them to their new roles, Chris Huhne urged Prime Minister Liz Truss and members of her cabinet to recognise the value of anaerobic digestion (AD) and biogas as shorter-term solutions to the huge challenges facing the new government.

Former Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change and now Chairman of the Anaerobic Digestion and Bioresources Association (ADBA), Chris Huhne, wrote to Prime Minister Liz Truss, Business Secretary Jacob Rees-Mogg, Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng, Environment Secretary Ranil Jayawardena and Transport Secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan.

The ADBA says it could take less than two years to build an AD plant and in addition to reducing the UK’s dependence on gas imports, the rapid growth of the industry could help reduce UK annual greenhouse gas emissions by 6%.

In the letter, Huhne wrote: “Biogas derived from organic wastes can provide a substantial alternative to gas imports while also generating revenue for the Treasury that could be used to alleviate consumer bills.”

Fully deployed, the AD and biogas industry could also reduce annual greenhouse gas emissions by 6%.

Seeking to point out the benefits of biogas as a constant rather than intermittent source of energy, he emphasised the rapid contribution AD plants could make to achieving energy security.

With the right help, Huhne wrote the existing fleet could produce more energy, and new plants could be built even faster than the current two-year turnaround, before lamenting the government’s failure to even mention biogas or biomethane in the UK’s Energy Strategy published in April.

To support the growth of the AD and biogas industry as a significant solution to these challenges, Huhne calls on the UK government to:

  • Accelerate the implementation of mandatory separate collections of food waste across the UK and its treatment through AD to produce biogas and biomethane.
  • Support the rapid deployment of biogas and biomethane infrastructure through contracts for difference (as applied to turbo-charge the wind and solar sectors). At present gas prices, he says this would lead to a windfall for the Treasury.
  • Reduce “unnecessary” red tape on biogas producers, including “time-consuming and onerous” planning processes, to enable sharp short-term increases in biogas output.

He concludes his letter by inviting the PM and cabinet members to engage with ADBA to discuss the sector’s potential in addressing today’s challenges and visit a biogas plant to see the technology in action.

Speaking in the letter, Chris Huhne, writes: “More biogas is as an essential response to the Russian gas crisis, as many of our neighbours are proposing.

“The EU plans to double biogas output to meet 9% of last year’s gas demand. By contrast, in the UK, current government plans would meet less than 1% of our 2021 consumption.

“If the organic wastes used to make biogas and biomethane are not managed they release the potent greenhouse gas methane and cause human health issues. When recycled through AD, these emissions are captured and the organic ‘wastes’ turned into a storable, flexible green gas (biogas), bio-CO2 and a rich-in-nutrient bio-fertiliser (digestate).

“Fully deployed, the AD and biogas industry could also reduce annual greenhouse gas emissions by 6%.”

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