FAQs - LA and gov.

Frequently asked questions

Is AD a vote winner?

Separate food waste collections and AD facilities have proven popular with local residents, with AD the most popular waste treatment option. Councils can also reduce the cost of waste collection and disposal by employing source segregation, meaning that other services for residents can be improved. By helping to deliver energy security and avoid power cuts at an affordable price, and providing constantly generated, dispatchable energy which balances intermittent renewables, the value of AD to the UK is clear. Plus, improved AD services will need manpower: construction, transport, waste collection, and manufacturing and engineering – in total this could mean an extra 35,000 jobs in the UK.

What are the biggest barriers to industry growth?

For AD developers and financiers, the key obstacles are confidence in government incentives, the funding of projects, getting hold of the feedstock, and ensuring connection to the grid. Developing AD projects can take a number of years, so committed, long-term investment is essential; this, so far, has been difficult to secure, given repeated changes to the incentive mechanisms, and the uncertainty this creates.

Making a project viable is also dependent on securing reliable supplies of feedstock. Two thirds of the potential feedstock for AD is food waste, the vast majority of which is in the control of local authorities. That is why the role of government and local authorities is critical in supporting source segregated waste collections, which delivers clear benefits for local residents as well as the AD industry.

Should we have any concerns about using purpose grown crops (PGCs) in AD plants?

Using PGCs for AD has several advantages, including the production of bioenergy which returns nutrients to land, and the benefit of crop rotation for food crops. Growing crops to produce bioenergy also aids pest and weed control by, for example, controlling the growth of blackgrass, plus it generates a low-carbon biofertiliser. Energy yields per hectare are also very high compared to other forms of bioenergy.

Concerns about monoculture and pollution or habitat loss can be addressed by adopting a code of conduct for farmers growing energy crops, and incorporating an assessment of compliance in the proposed pre-accreditation process for tariffs.

Is AD a proven technology?

Germany currently has over 7,500 AD plants, which add billions of euros to their economy. This strong position has allowed German companies to export their technology and expertise across Europe, and their sector has grown explosively in the last decade largely due to consistent support from government, particularly in the form of their Feed-in Tariff.

While AD has been used successfully for decades in the UK water sector with approximately 150 plants operating, five years ago there were only a handful of plants operating in other sectors. The UK industry has since grown rapidly, with 78 operational plants and hundreds more in planning. It has been calculated that if the AD industry in the UK received all available feedstock, it has a biogas potential of 40TWh, equivalent to powering the whole of London three times over.