One of the aims of the Anaerobic Digestion & Bioresources Association (ADBA) is to help the anaerobic digestion (AD) sector become a mature and professional industry, and the development of an industry best practice scheme has been a longstanding goal.
While many plants operate to a high standard, there have also been some high-profile environmental incidents and health and safety issues which, as well as having negative consequences for those directly involved, damages the reputation of the whole sector. This in turn makes it harder for policy-makers to support AD.
In 2015, ADBA set up a steering group to consider how to progress a best practice scheme, bringing together key organisations and seeking views from all stakeholders. The association spoke extensively to operators, regulators, insurers, investors, plant designers and engineers to understand their priorities and what they wanted us to deliver.
From that feedback, it was decided to create the AD Certification Scheme (ADCS), which was then developed in collaboration with stakeholders. The scheme was piloted at three plants in summer 2017, allowing ADBA to test the process in a real-life setting and ensure it was fit for purpose, before launching the scheme in December 2017 at its National Conference.
How does the scheme work?
Once an application to the ADCS has been submitted, the operator undergoes an audit of its AD site and management systems and is provided with a full audit report, including recommendations for improvements.
If the operator is successful, it will be certified and listed on the scheme website, but those who have improvements to make will be guided to support and sources of advice. Operators who are certified will be required to have an annual review to ensure ongoing compliance with the scheme.
While the ADCS is owned by ADBA, Aardvark Certification has been appointed as the certification body that will be responsible for delivering the audit and certification process. Aardvark has specialist auditors with experience in the AD sector, meaning it can provide valuable insight and feedback to operators.
How can the ADCS help operators to make improvements?
The core aim of the scheme is to help operators to improve their performance. The audit process encourages operators to evaluate themselves against industry-defined good practice, allowing gaps or areas of improvement to be identified. The operator will need to address these in order to be certified and gain the benefits of being so. ADBA hopes that the scheme provides both the motivation and means for operators to improve.
The ADCS requires operators to have procedures in place for monitoring performance, which can vary between AD plants depending on the technology, feedstock, configuration and other factors. The scheme also stipulates that operators must have management systems for planned preventative maintenance to avoid plant failure and ensure all parts are working optimally.
These examples, along with other criteria in the scheme, should help operators to minimise plant downtime, optimise efficiency and maximise plant performance. ADBA also hopes to provide training or workshops for operators and address any common failings through publishing guidance.
Why should operators get involved?
There many reasons why operators should join the scheme, which are set out in full on the scheme’s website and brochure. The benefits of participating include the opportunity to undergo a comprehensive audit by independent specialists covering key aspects of operational performance and receive a detailed written report highlighting areas for improvement.
Participation is a great way for operators to demonstrate commitment to achieving high standards to their regulators, neighbours, employees and funders, allowing for positive relationships with these stakeholders.
Certified plants will also have access to an exclusive insurance product developed by Jelf Insurance Brokers, which is underwritten by two leading insurers, and provides favourable terms, including a 10% discount on insurance premiums.
ADBA will continue to secure tangible business benefits for certified operators to ensure the scheme provides the maximum possible value for the AD sector. Operators who are existing ADBA members and those who join ADBA will receive a 25% discount on their scheme application fee if their application is made by 30 June 2018.
Jess Allan is environment and regulation manager at ADBA
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