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Biogas has a key role to play in addressing energy and climate crises, says anaerobic digestion trade body in letters to new government

Biogas has a key role to play in addressing energy and climate crises, says anaerobic digestion trade body in letters to new government

  • Chris Huhne, former Energy and Climate Change Secretary of State and now chairman of the Anaerobic Digestion and Bioresources Association (ADBA) – writes to the PM and key members of the Cabinet setting out the benefits of anaerobic digestion (AD) and biogas to achieve economic growth, energy independence and decarbonisation.
  • It could take less than two years to build an AD plant – in addition to reducing the UK dependence on gas imports, rapid growth of the industry could help reduce UK annual greenhouse gas emissions by 6%.
  • ADBA calls for government support in separate food waste collections going to AD, the rapid deployment of AD infrastructure and the lifting of red tape for biogas producers to secure greater output of biogas
Chris Huhne

In letters welcoming them to their new roles, Chris Huhne, former Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change and now Chairman of the Anaerobic Digestion and Bioresources Association (ADBA), has urged Prime Minister Liz Truss, Business Secretary Jacob Rees-Mogg, Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng, Environment Secretary Ranil Jayawardena and Transport Secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan to recognise the value of AD and biogas as shorter-term solutions to the huge challenges facing the new government.

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”, he writes.

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

More biogas is as an essential response to the Russian gas crisis, as many of our neighbours are proposing” he says. “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”.

He also describes the role of AD and biogas technology plays in decarbonising the economy by transforming organic wastes into valuable bioresources and capturing harmful greenhouse gas emissions in the process. “If the organic wastes used to make biogas and biomethane are not managed” he explains, “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%”, he states.

To support the growth of the AD and biogas industry as a significant solution to these challenges, he 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, 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 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.

Read Chris Huhne’s letter to the Rt Hon Jacob Rees-Mogg MP


For further information, contact:
Jocelyne Bia, Senior Communications Consultant, ADBA ; +44 (0)20 3176 0592

Notes to Editors

  • The Anaerobic Digestion and Bioresources Association (ADBA) is the trade association for the UK anaerobic digestion (AD) and biogas industry. ADBA’s vision is to see the full potential of the UK AD industry realised by 2030 so that it can help the UK achieve its emissions targets and other policy goals, creating a truly circular economy.
  • Anaerobic digestion (AD) is a technology by which organic matter such as food waste, sewage, manure, and other agricultural waste is recycled into a green gas (biogas/biomethane), a biofertiliser (digestate), bioCO2 and other valuable bioproducts.
  • About the AD industry 
    • There are currently 698 AD plants operational in the UK.
    • The entire industry digests approximately 47 million tonnes of organic material each year organic material that would otherwise emit greenhouse gas if left untreated in landfill.
    • An estimated 19.4 TWh of biogas is produced each year by the AD industry – this green gas is either used to generate electricity and heat via a combined heat and power (CHP) unit or upgraded to biomethane and injected directly into the national gas grid.  This is enough to heat 1.6 million UK homes.
    • The industry currently delivers 1.1% greenhouse gas savings in the UK every year, which would increase to 6% if all the UK’s organise wastes were recycled through AD.
    • An estimated 5,000 people are currently employed in the AD and biogas industry in the UK.
    • Fully deployed, by 2030, the UK AD and biogas industry expected to:
      • create 30,000 direct and 30,000 indirect jobs
      • save the UK 27m t of CO2 equivalent = taking 1/3rd of all cars off the road, by 2030.
      • heat 4.5-6.4 million UK homes with the 8 billion m3 of biomethane generated.




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