Biomethane could deliver 30 per cent of UK’s 2030 carbon budget, says ADBA

Biomethane has the potential to deliver 30 per cent of the UK’s 2030 carbon budget, according to a new report from the Anaerobic Digestion and Bioresources Association (ADBA).

An image of an anaerobic digestion plant
An anaerobic digestion (AD) plant

Launched yesterday (3 March) by Alan Whitehead MP, the report, entitled ‘Biomethane: the pathway to 2030’, suggests that a supportive policy environment could allow anaerobic digestion (AD) technology to produce eight billion cubic metres of biomethane per year – enough to heat 6.4 million homes – by 2030.

It is suggested that this would deliver a six per cent reduction in the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, specifically within hard-to-decarbonise sectors such as heat, transport, waste management and agriculture, achieving a third of the government’s fifth carbon budget target, while creating over 30,000 green jobs in AD plants.

The report, which has been sponsored by Air Liquide, Privilege Finance and SNG, highlights six key actions to allow the industry to achieve its potential:

  • Immediate support for biomethane production beyond 2021;
  • Extension of the Renewable Transport Fuel Obligation beyond 2032;
  • Funding for innovation;
  • Establishment of resource hierarchies for all organic wastes with AD as the optimal recycling technology;
  • Development of a renewable biofertiliser obligation; and
  • Support for local circular economy projects around food waste recycling through AD into heat and power generation.

Commenting on the report, Charlotte Morton, Chief Executive of ADBA, said: “Our sector has seen strong periods of very strong growth in the last decade as a direct result of supportive policy, but this has stalled in recent years due to the withdrawal of support. The next ten years, dubbed the climate decade, are our last chance to reverse the climate crisis.

“To reach its full potential by 2030 and make a real impact, the industry must grow faster than it has ever done. We therefore need robust and immediate support from government to capitalise on the sector’s wide-ranging environmental and social benefits, and to unlock a commercially viable, world-class AD industry with goods, services and expertise that can be exported around the world.

“In the face of the climate emergency, AD is not an option, it’s a necessity, and a technology that needs to be fully deployed now to create the healthy environment and healthy green economy that the UK needs.”

Decarbonisation potential

Outlining the industry’s potential role in climate change mitigation, the World Biogas Association (WBA) presented a declaration at the UN’s COP25 conference in Madrid in December, stating that the biogas sector will deliver a 12 per cent reduction in global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 2030 provided it receives adequate support from world governments.

The industry has received UN recognition, with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) publishing a report on climate change and land management in August which acknowledged the importance of reducing GHG emissions from food waste.

Calling on Boris Johnson’s new government to support the growth of the AD and biogas industry, ADBA sent a letter following the Conservative Party’s victory in December’s general election highlighting the need for cross-departmental coordination, funding for separate food waste collections, policy incentives and investment in research and innovation.

In addition to the industry’s potential to decarbonise the heat network, biogas may prove crucial in the push to reduce emissions from the transport sector – a fleet of biomethane buses was launched in Bristol last month, which First West of England claims will reduce GHG emissions by 85 per cent compared to older diesel buses.

You can read the full report, ‘Biomethane: the pathway to 2030’ on the ADBA website. 

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