The ability of anaerobic digestion (AD) to provide power that can be easily switched on and off makes it essential to the UK’s energy supply, according to former energy secretary Chris Huhne.
Speaking at the Anaerobic Digestion and Biogas Association (ADBA) national conference at Westminster on 3 December, Huhne said that in the long run renewables will diversify the UK energy supply away from fossil fuels.
He said they will spread risk as well as lower consumer energy bills.
He added: “AD and biogas are still one of the very few ‘dispatchable’ sources of renewable energy.”
He said this means they are readily available to provide “base load” power, and can be turned on and off at will. This is because it is possible to build big enough storage facilities for AD produce.
He said: “This is an extraordinary advantage in any developed economy as energy consumption can change 100% in one day.
“In a renewables world we need renewables that are capable of meeting base load when the wind is not blowing – when the sun is not shining.
“There is going to be a very crucial role for dispatchable renewables like AD.”
Commenting on recent conflicts over green levies in Government, Huhne disagreed that the UK will have to make significant sacrifices to meet its renewable targets of 15% as well as subsidising the renewables industry.
He said: “Let’s knock on the head the idea that the UK is going further or faster than our European neighbours on renewables - this is simply not true. Of all the major member states the UK has the lowest renewable energy target. But it is fundamentally wrong to say we shouldn’t be in the lead.”
Huhne joins ADBA part time
ADBA chief executive Charlotte Morton announced at the conference that Huhne will be joining ADBA on a part-time basis as a strategic adviser.
Morton said: “Renewable energy support is clearly set to be a major issue in the run up to the next election, and indeed in Europe. Chris’s help demonstrating the very significant value anaerobic digestion delivers will make a real difference.”