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Farming sector leads 40% surge in electricity from biogas

The Department for Energy & Climate Change (DECC) yesterday released their annual Digest of United Kingdom Energy Statistics (DUKES), demonstrating a surge in AD capacity outside of the water industry from 164MW in 2013 to 216MW (32 per cent) in 2014.

ADBA’s own analysis shows that these plants generated 40 per cent more electricity in 2014 than in 2013, more than was generated from sewage sludge in the water sector and for the first time breaking past 1TWh of electricity. This is despite water companies also generating biogas more efficiently than ever, with electricity generation from sewage gas up by 11 per cent from just a 5 per cent increase in capacity.

This surge reflects a doubling in the number of farm-based plants to 147 and an increase in AD capacity for food waste highlighted by ADBA’s market report ADBA’s Market Report, published at the beginning of July.

ADBA’s market report also showed that there has been a real surge in deployment of biomethane plants generating gas for the grid in 2014-2015. This isn’t yet reflected in DECC’s figures, but we would expect 2015 statistics to highlight the growth impact from the additional biomethane production.

ADBA’s Chief Executive, Charlotte Morton, commented:

The 40% leap in electricity generated by anaerobic digestion electrical capacity outside of the water industry in 2014 shows how the UK’s AD market has taken off over the past year.

While the surge in biomethane this year won’t be apparent until DECC publish their 2015 DUKES report, the overall growth in electrical capacity reflects the significant contribution the AD industry is now delivering towards the UK’s energy needs. As intermittent renewables such as wind and solar supply more of our electricity, AD complements their output through the generation of low carbon baseload or dispatchable power, helping to ensure we meet peaks in demand.

This strong progress is however now at serious risk as a result of recent hostile government policy, including: the surprise £11 million cut announced in the summer budget; uncertainty over the future of RHI beyond next year; the sudden review of pre-accreditation in the Feed-in Tariff and ongoing cuts to incentive levels.

Without support to continue development, the AD industry will be unable to contribute to critical government targets. The AD industry offers exceptional value for money since it delivers far more than just renewable gas: it has the potential to meet 30% of UK domestic gas demand, reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 4%, improve energy security by reducing reliance on energy imports and help keep farmers farming by offering diversification and low carbon biofertiliser, whilst creating a further 30,000 jobs. The industry is focused on improving performance and cutting costs to ensure that it could offer a major contribution to a UK bioeconomy worth potentially £100 billion, but to achieve that it will need continued Government support today.

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