Producers of biogas will no longer need to pay for permits or waste handling controls to use fruit and vegetable by-products in the anaerobic digestion (AD) process, the Environment Agency confirmed this week.
Previously, the addition of even a small quantity of these by-products into the AD process (such as leaves and roots, or produce that is misshapen, bruised or undersized) would require operators to apply for expensive permits and implement the same waste handling controls as a commercial food waste AD plant.
The change to the regulations follow campaigning by the Renewable Energy Assication (REA), which includes a letter that was sent to the then Environment Secretary Owen Paterson in June.
It asked for support in resolving the technical regulatory issue, which it said presents a “significant barrier to the use of commercial processing rejects and farm residues in on-farm and on-site anaerobic digestion facilities.”
Jeremy Jacobs, REA – “This regulatory boost will be the final piece in the puzzle for several on-site and on-farm AD projects that had been hanging in the balance, which is great news. However, this sector is still being stifled by structural problems with the Feed-in Tariff, which disproportionately affect the smaller players in the market”
It said that the current rules are not consistent, citing a number of feedstocks derived from residues that are considered safe for use in “open air” windrow composting but not permitted for AD.
“The benefit of taking a safe but simpler regulatory approach is that on-farm and on site AD operators would be able to source abundant, safe, low risk alternatives to energy crops where it was available without unnecessary regulatory burdens on both the regulator and operator,” the letter stated.
REA member Branston Ltd, a potato producer with sites in Lincoln, Scotland and the South West, is one of the companies set to benefit from this change. Vidyanath Gururajan, Innovations Director at Branston Ltd, said: “It is very encouraging to see that the Environment Agency has issued a briefing note to differentiate crop residues from food waste. This is definitely a step in the right direction for encouraging the fresh produce industry to use AD technology to reduce its carbon emissions.”
REA technical director, Jeremy Jacobs, said: “This regulatory boost will be the final piece in the puzzle for several on-site and on-farm AD projects that had been hanging in the balance, which is great news. However, this sector is still being stifled by structural problems with the Feed-in Tariff, which disproportionately affect the smaller players in the market.
“As the election nears, we’re encouraging all parties to commit to a genuine and lasting solution to the FIT problem when it is reviewed in 2015. This will unlock AD’s full potential for creating much needed green jobs and growth in the rural economy, as well as producing sustainable fertiliser, green gas and electricity to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels.”
For the full letter, written to Owen Paterson, CLICK HERE
|Crop residues used as feedstocks in anaerobic digestion plants briefing note|