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Defra sets out steps needed to increase AD

An anaerobic digestion (AD) steering group chaired by the Government and made up of Government departments, representatives from industry, communities and local government will be key to developing AD in the UK.

In its AD framework document, the Government has called on those working within and affected by AD facilities to come forward and help collate information on ways to increase the use of AD.

It is felt this shared approach to working on AD is what will “allow the industry to flourish and develop so that we have a strong and sustainable AD sector in the future”.

The document proposes that the steering group sets up three working groups: knowledge and understand; smarter working models; and regulation and finance.

Eight work themes will then be focused on by the working groups. These are:

  • Improving our understanding of the AD landscape
  • Raising awareness of AD - community AD and localism
  • Improving access to finance
  • Building UK skills
  • Smarter regulation
  • Building safe and secure markets for digestate
  • Building markets for biomethane and transport fuels
  • AD in the rural community.

Environment Minister Lord Henley said: “This Government is committed to working with trade bodies, local authorities, communities and other interested parties in developing our framework for the development of anaerobic digestion, drawing on the widest possible range of expertise. This document is a starting point to find out the best possible way we can produce energy from waste through anaerobic digestion.”

The report states that “the emphasis has been on introducing AD as a ‘technology’ and we now need to focus on commericalising the markets.”

Climate Change Minister Greg Barker said: “We need to be far more ambitious in getting energy from waste. Today’s document signals the start of a collective approach between industry and government to increase the amount of anaerobic digestion over the next few years. This is a key part of the Coalition’s vision of a much greater role for local energy and puts power back in the hands of communities.

“Anaerobic digestion cuts carbon emissions, helps ensure energy security, creates green jobs and reduces biodegradable waste going to landfill.”

The document already proposes some tasks for the eight work themes including educating the public and local authorities on AD as a technology with access to “trusted information” which is vital for waste producers. Furthermore, joint working where the community is involved in AD projects and shares the benefit of having a plant near to them. It is hoped this can be encouraged by the localism agenda being developed by the department for Community and Local Government and DECC.

To build investor confidence, the document proposes reducing due-diligence costs through agreed protocols and accreditation and co-developing standard financial models to reduce the costs of obtaining debt. Difficulty in obtaining debt or equity finance is currently a “serious barrier” to the development of AD. In order to provide more funding to projects, residual value lease schemes and loan schemes could be used.

Additionally, a quality protocol will have to be created for biogas, while more improvement of regulation in the industry is needed.

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