The coalition Government has brought with it new priorities, one of which is that the parties “will introduce measures to promote a huge increase in energy from waste through anaerobic digestion (AD)”.
Lord Redesdale, chairman of the Anaerobic Digestion and Biogas Association (ADBA), the trade body representing the industry in the UK, recently said:
“The emphasis on AD is the only way the Government will meet its waste directive targets. Without AD it is almost certain that renewable energy and climate change targets will not be met.”
Pressure from the EU could well see organic waste being directed away from combustion towards AD because of the potential value of digestate.
Why is an industry that was for so many years seen as being on the cusp of financial viability now seen as the lynchpin of Government policy? The answer is that AD has one unique selling point and that is the production of biogas, a low-carbon fuel that can be fed directly into the gas grid, used to generate electricity or converted into a transport fuel. At present councils dealing with organic waste have to pay gate fees to dispose of it. But in the future it will be seen as a valuable feedstock. Indeed, the concept of discarded organic matter being called ‘waste’ is challenged by ADBA because of the potential value of this fuel supply.
Once a “fringe” technology, anaerobic digestion is now the cornerstone of the Government’s waste management policy.