A letter sent to the Chancellor highlights the potential of anaerobic digestion (AD) in achieving the Government’s Net Zero emissions target.
The Anaerobic Digestion and Bioresources Association (ADBA) has written to Chancellor Sajid Javid ahead of the next Budget announcement, setting out the industry’s views on the policies needed to stimulate growth of the AD sector and “fulfil its potential” to reduce some of the hardest-to-decarbonise emissions.
Currently, AD is predominantly recognised for its role in generating green energy. But AD also prevents methane emissions from organic wastes left to break down in landfill – and there is a “huge untapped potential” for methane capture, use and conversion with millions of tonnes of organic wastes from farming, food and sewage currently not being treated through AD, ADBA says.
The sector’s progress has already effectively stalled due to the lack of policy certainty, and there is a real risk of losing expertise if there is an ongoing gap in policy provision
In addition, AD treatment of organics recovers nutrients to fertilise depleted soils and improve their ability to sequester carbon.
The Treasury has been tasked with coordinating government efforts to achieve Net Zero emissions by 2050. ADBA says that AD has the potential to cut UK emissions by 5% across multiple sectors and therefore needs “policy incentives” applied across multiple Government departments (namely BEIS, Treasury, DEFRA, and Transport) to operate effectively.
Good cross-departmental policy coordination is therefore “essential”, it says, to enable the industry to grow and achieve “widespread emission abatement”.
ADBA’s chief executive Charlotte Morton said: “As a result of enjoying consistent policy and funding support, the wind and solar industries have become extremely cost-effective and are now established as part of the renewable energy mix.
“AD should be given the same fair treatment, to put the sector on the ‘glide path’ to no subsidy, as costs come down and innovation drives cost savings across the industry.
AD should be given the same fair treatment, to put the sector on the ‘glide path’ to no subsidy, as costs come down and innovation drives cost savings across the industry
“The UK AD sector has grown by over 350% over the last ten years and established itself as a world leader with UK companies exporting biogas-related expertise and equipment. However, the current timeline for the Greening the Gas Grid consultation is unlikely to provide the urgent continuity necessary to stimulate further industry growth.
“The sector’s progress has already effectively stalled due to the lack of policy certainty, and there is a real risk of losing expertise if there is an ongoing gap in policy provision. Meanwhile, with CABB, we could supercharge our industry and put it at the cutting edge of agricultural science.
Centre for Anaerobic Biotechnology and Bioresources Research
ADBA says the Government must also provide clear financial parameters to local authorities (LAs) to implement the mandatory separate food waste collections by 2023 stated in the Resources & Waste Strategy, and the Budget must commit to an interim pot of funding for biomethane plant deployment similar to the Renewable Heat Incentive, which is due to come to an end in March 2021.
The Government must support AD innovation to make it “financially autonomous”, it says.
Enclosed in ADBA’s letter to the Chancellor was the trade association’s proposal for a virtual Centre for Anaerobic Biotechnology and Bioresources Research (CABB) to develop new waste management technologies, that, according to ADBA would not only “boost” British exports, but also transform the sector’s performance and eliminate the need for subsidies in the future.
CABB’s objective is to transform AD into a low-cost, multifunctional biotechnology and a key ingredient in developing integrated processes to deliver future energy and resources provision.
Morton added: “We await the Budget next month with interest and are continuing our discussions with the Treasury and BEIS on our proposals in advance of its publication.”