The way of waste

Charlotte Morton speaking at the ADBA National Conference 2017.

With the COP 25 meeting in Madrid, many minds were on the environment. In London last week, the Anaerobic Digestion and Biogas Association’s (ADBA) National Conference was also thinking about the effect of global warming and how the new government could help with achieving the UK’s goal of achieving net zero emissions by 2050, noting that there will be no net zero without biogas.

The ADBA has celebrated its tenth anniversary, and the growth of this conference is testament to the potential of AD for the next decade, the ADBA chief executive Charlotte Morton told the assembled: “We are in a state of climate emergency, and we have 10 years to cut global emissions by 40 per cent to prevent a temperature increase of above 1.5 degrees celsius, so we have to act faster and make use of all available technologies.”

AD has to be adopted more widely, so as to make better use of the resources on hand, which includes on-farm and consumer food waste. “If we look to 2030, AD sits at the heart of the circular economy – we create renewable energy and bio-friendly fertiliser digestate, which goes back to depleted soils,” she said. “The widespread rollout of biomethane plants can be used to decarbonise the grid. UK decarbonisation will amount to six per cent of global emissions.”

This makes the effort worthwhile. Morton also called for the UK government to continue supporting it, rather than offering start and stop tariffs for these industries. Getting the news out about the benefits of AD also has to be a priority for the industry, she noted. Another key issue for the UK AD industry is to get more of the UK food waste stream, and to make sure the grid connections are centralised and accessible for plants.

All in all, a lot of work done, with around 100 plants in the UK coming on stream per year and the launch of a report set for February 2020 in Parliament on biomethane. However, a lot of work remains, with around 90 million tons of slurry sitting untreated on British farms and a joined up waste collection system needed, which would offer more in the way of fuel for this renewable resource.

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