A Centre for Anaerobic Biotechnology and Bioresources Research is being proposed to establish the UK as a leader in the global biogas industry.
Sponsors say such a centre would act as a hub of excellence and boost anaerobic digestion (AD) as a low-cost, multi-functional biotechnology.
Estimates show that biogas could produce up to 60% of the energy currently generated by coal, reducing global greenhouse gas emissions by 18-20%.
The project is being discussed at the seventh annual Anaerobic Digestion and Bioresources Association (Adba) Research & Innovation (R&I) Forum 2017 on 28-29 March in London.
Adba chief executive Charlotte Morton said: “The UK has world-class expertise in AD and already exports more than £100m-worth of expertise and equipment per year.
“A Centre for Anaerobic Biotechnology and Bioresources Research has the potential to create export opportunities estimated at £5bn and 60,000 jobs while contributing to the UK’s energy security.”
Dr Mike Mason, research fellow at the University of Oxford and chairman of Tropical Power, who is chairing a session, said: “Power from AD could be competitive with coal and provide more energy than nuclear does today, but is currently delivering only a fraction of this potential.
“Further investment via targeted, collaborative research would enable a step change in the cost of AD, allowing anaerobic biotechnology to deliver at a massively greater scale than at present.”