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Rapid AD industry expansion expected to continue

An additional 60 to 100 new anaerobic digestion (AD) plants are expected to be constructed in 2015.

The continuing expansion of the sector was revealed in a yearly market report from the Anaerobic Digestion and Bioresources Association (ADBA).

The new facilities follow significant growth in the sector in 2014 which saw more than 100 plants pass the commissioning stage.

The report also said that although the quantity of recycled food waste is increasing – 1.6 million tonnes in 2015 compared with 0.3-0.4 million tonnes in 2010 – waste policy in England is preventing investment in the sector in comparison to the rest of the UK.

There is additional uncertainty around the number of biomethane-to-grid projects after April 2016 while the industry waits for a decision by the Government on funding for the Renewable Heat Incentive.

The report states that with some changes in policy, the AD sector could deliver at least 500 more plants by 2020.

Charlotte Morton ADBA

ADBA chief executive Charlotte Morton, left, said: “Since the first UK AD & Biogas trade show five years ago, the industry has quintupled outside of the water sector.

“Across all AD’s sectors, the industry now has a combined electrical equivalent capacity (electricity and biomethane) of almost 480MW: equivalent to the capacity of one of the UK’s nuclear power plants, Wylfa, being decommissioned this year.”

Other insights identified by the report include:

  • AD brings in at least £50m-£100m to the UK in exports, and employs 4,500 people
  • The industry has the potential to deliver 30% of the UK’s domestic gas demand
  • AD could reduce the UK’s total greenhouse gas emissions by 4%

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