NNFCC informs of anaerobic digestion deployment in the United Kingdom

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Biogas-Anlage (Foto: Kroll / Recyclingportal.eu)

York, UK — The National Non-Food Crops Centre has announced the publication of our second annual Anaerobic Digestion (AD) deployment in the UK report. Based on information from NNFCC’s anaerobic digestion deployment database, the report provides a comprehensive regional breakdown of sector development in Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and the 10 regions of England, giving detailed information on feedstock requirements, installed capacity and output type (combined heat & power or biomethane – to-grid) for every project.

Rapid expansion

Over the past 12-months the UK AD industry has continued to thrive, despite many challenges that have occurred along the way. With 50 new plants commissioned and more than 200 new plants entering the development pipeline, the sector is rapidly expanding, maturing and finding its way in the ever changing development landscape. The total number of operational plants is now 185, with installed capacity totalling 168MWe – the industry is now capable of providing electricity for around 350,000 households.

There are over 500 plants in the development pipeline; of which 204 have been inititiated over the last year. Of the new projects entering the pipeline, 156 are expected to use agricultural feedstocks, while just 46 are expected to use predominantly food waste.

Closing the waste treatment capacity gap?

Lucy Hopwood, NNFCC’s Lead Consultant for Bioenergy & Anaerobic Digestion, said: “Feedstock is the key to future expansion. There’s concern about food waste availability with suggestions that we’re rapidly closing the waste treatment capacity gap. However, when you look at the figures they suggest otherwise. Only 2 million tonnes of the reported 16 million tonnes of food waste generated every year in the UK is currently treated through AD. The issue here isn’t availability – it’s acessibility.“

She added: „Similarly, agricultural wastes, such as manures and slurries, are still a relatively untapped resource – fewer than 1 million of the 90 million tonnes generated are being treated through AD. This isn’t an acessibility issue, it’s an economic one.“

Key points from the report include:

  • There are currently 185 operational AD plants in the United Kingdom, 102 of which are farm-fed and 83 of which are waste-fed;
  • AD plants currently operational in the United Kingdom require almost 2 million tonnes of food waste, 636,000 tonnes of manure or slurry, 1.2 million tonnes of crops, 229,000 tonnes of crop waste and 1.2 million tonnes of other waste each year;
  • The estimated cropping area required by operational AD plants in the United Kingdom is 27,800 hectares; equivalent to around 0.5 per cent of UK arable crop land;
  • There are 500 AD projects under development in the United Kingdom; 343 of which are farm-fed and 157 of which are waste-fed;
  • AD plants currently under development in the United Kingdom require over 4 million tonnes of food waste, 2 million tonnes of manure or slurry, 3 million tonnes of crops, 200,000 tonnes of crop waste and over 2 million tonnes of other waste each year;
  • The estimated cropping area required by AD plants in development in the United Kingdom is just over 60,000 hectares; equivalent to around one per cent of UK arable crop land, much of which could feasibly be used in rotation with crops destined for food markets. This contribution would result in the generation of just over 1TWh electricity, enough to supply around a quarter of a million UK homes;
  • Small and medium scale developments (500kWe and below) have faced severe tariff cuts over the past 12-months, as a result of the FIT cost control mechanism;
  • Biomethane injection plants have increased more than fourfold over the past year as a result of RHI support;
  • The pipeline for biomethane injection facilities remains strong, but following the recent tariff structure change and as a result of the RHI cost-control mechanism, activity is expected to slow.

The report costs £595 + VAT – this includes the full April 2015 PDF report and accompanying Excel spreadsheet. More information under nnfcc.us2.list-manage.com.

Source: NNFCC The Bioeconomy Consultants