Anaerobic Digestion

UK government needs to eliminate policy barriers for anaerobic digestion

The potential of the biogas industry to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the UK has been overlooked by British leadership, according to the Anaerobic Digestion and Bioresources Association (ADBA).

The potential of the biogas industry to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the UK has been overlooked by British leadership, according to the Anaerobic Digestion and Bioresources Association (ADBA).

The trade body has called on the government to provide viable policy support to the industry via implementation of anaerobic digestion (AD) infrastructure.

AD refers to the decomposition of organic waste in the absence of oxygen via micro-organisms. The process generates biogas (a mixture of methane and carbon dioxide) and digestate.

The refined biogas-now forming biomethane-can be used to fuel buses, refuse collection lorries and HGV’s, being a more energy efficient fuel solution. Meanwhile, the digestate can be used as bio-fertiliser, being rich in nutrients such as nitrogen and potassium which are essential for healthy plant growth and fertile soil.

With the UK set to host the UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP 26), a summit that aims to limit global warming to below 2°C, individual governmental commitment to climate action is particularly important.

According to ADBA estimates, a proper policy framework enabling the use of AD could serve to reduce UK greenhouse gas emissions by 6% by 2030.

So far, governmental inability to establish a platform for the green technology has led to the diversion of 170 million tonnes of organic waste to landfill and incineration.

The UK AD industry expressed its disappointment over the government’s inability to officially recognize the value of biomethane in decarbonising the transport sector considering that municipalities and retailers are already successfully deploying fleets of biomethane-powered vehicles.  

According to Charlotte Morton, ADBA’s Chief Executive, AD also has the potential to reduce emissions in sectors such as heat and agriculture next to transport, the three of which are known for depending on fossil fuels.

She stresses that the ‘readily available low-cost technology’ that can help reduce emissions, as anaerobic digestion was termed in the Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) sixth assessment report, requires more than industry goodwill to ensure that it is fully deployed by the next decade.  

“All we now await is a similar commitment from our politicians to make things happen — let alone present Britain, ahead of a vitally important COP26, as a true climate change mitigation champion, capable of influencing other countries into adopting AD in their decarbonisation and Net Zero strategies. There is no Net Zero without biogas”.