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First aid for AD

The UK faces some vital challenges in 2012: meeting legally binding climate change commitments, safe-guarding future energy and food security and delivering economic growth.

The Anaerobic Digestion and Biogas Association’s (ADBA) event - UK AD & Biogas 2012 - aims to showcase the key role that the anaerobic digestion (AD) sector can play in achieving these.

This year’s annual trade show and conference includes new free professional finance, farming and legal AD clinics, as well as ADBA’s first UK AD & Biogas Industry Awards.

Those about to embark on a project or are interested in getting a second opinion on a scheme will be able to receive 20 minutes of free legal, financial and on-farm AD advice provided by experts. ADBA’s aim is for the clinics to provide the information to help visitors decide whether to proceed from initial interest into developing an actual project, and how to avoid common pitfalls and ensure best results.

Whether visitors are interested in small- or large-scale AD, forming a joint venture or getting their waste collected and sent off to AD, the clinics can provide answers.

The finance clinic, manned by Compass Renewables, will help visitors to achieve an early understanding of a project, in turn giving Compass an idea of what may be needed to arrange funding.

Projects will be at varying stages, from conceptual to having achieved planning. So, in the 20-minute sessions, Compass will help visitors to understand funding options and facilitate a focused discussion to ensure that fundamental questions/concerns are properly addressed.

Funding renewable energy is not straightforward. The sessions aim to address the issues that can over-complicate the process.

The legal clinic is staffed by Walker Morris, a law firm at the forefront of the UK’s investment in AD, biogas and waste treatment infrastructure.

Clinic sessions will provide consultation on legal issues affecting the AD sector that can be tricky to negotiate including contract structures, EPC contracts and security packages, local authority AD projects, feedstock supply contracting, technology risk issues, tendering and procurement, site acquisition and property issues.

They will cover how to manage a joint venture, construction and supply chain management, and commercial terms and conditions.

The Farmers’ consultancy clinic, manned by ADBA’s panel of consultants from the Farmers’ Consultancy Service (FCS), will offer advice about farm AD. They can help visitors to decide whether an AD plant could work for them, if it would help generate an income stream, produce renewable fertiliser and reduce emissions.

ADBA’s dedicated FCS, launched earlier this year at the Energy Now Expo, has already helped farmers and landowners. Steve Gifkins from MKEC Malt Mill Farm in Milton Keynes, who used the service, described it as “very helpful in advising about a small-scale requirement”.

AD is site-specific technology. While it works well in certain circumstances, returns can vary hugely and it does not suit everywhere. Discussing site specifics and requirements with an expert will allow farmers and landowners to gauge which type of project would maximise returns.

Cath Anthony, rural surveyor at Bidwells and a member of the ADBA farmer’s consultancy panel, adds: “The clinics provide farmers and landowners with the chance to discuss their potential projects with experienced consultants, to determine whether AD is a viable option for them and to identify how to progress projects on to the next stages.”

Rosaline Hulse is Communications & Systems Executive at The Anaerobic Digestion and Biogas Association

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