ADBA welcomes Labour to office and shares action plan to support biogas sector

ADBA Chairman Chris Huhne said: “The key now is supply. We could have hundreds of new natural gas power plants built between now and the next election,” said ADBA Chairman Chris Huhne. “Green gas can and should grow faster than wind and is second only to solar power, according to the International Energy Agency.

“Domestic green gas power will overtake nuclear power by 2029, on current trends. Because green gas is created using waste streams from agriculture, food and industry, it is a British resource that can protect us from Putin’s gas price hikes and reduce our energy imports.”

ADBA’s 10-point biogas roadmap

#1 Build 1,000 new biogas plants to protect consumers from exorbitantly high prices

The UK is at the mercy of fossil gas prices. Gas prices peaked at 642p/term in early 2022, sending the country into a spiralling energy crisis and a struggle to reduce its dependence on Russian gas imports. Insisting on green gas as part of the gas supply and supporting new power plants with green gas contracts for difference would protect consumers and increase energy security.

#2 Keep supermarket shelves stocked with a UK-made biofertiliser

Synthetic fertiliser is made using the energy-intensive Haber-Bosch process, which requires large amounts of fossil fuel to fuel it. As oil and gas prices have risen, so have synthetic fertiliser prices. In addition, synthetic fertilisers contribute significantly to soil degradation and disruption of key nitrogen and phosphorus cycles. Digestate, a nutrient-rich biofertiliser, is one of several valuable by-products of AD. By replacing biofertiliser with synthetic fertiliser and increasing market support for its use, the country can protect farmers from volatile synthetic fertiliser prices and boost UK food security by keeping food shelves stocked.

#3 Clean up rivers and beaches by recycling agricultural waste with AD

AD can help combat water pollution and keep waterways clean. Agricultural waste is often improperly disposed of and managed. Runoff of nutrients, pathogens and contaminants from animal farms leads to hazardous pollution that causes eutrophication, dead zones and disruption of biodiversity. AD on the farm provides a closed loop system for proper storage and recycling of animal waste.

#4 Create 18,000 new skilled jobs in the UK

Number four is about jobs and growth in the sector. The IEA has published its Annual Energy Outlook for 2023, predicting that the biogas sector will grow by 8-22% by 2030. This would mean at least 500 new plants producing local green gas. We can already see how quickly AD can be scaled up and new plants can be brought online. The ADBA is calling for at least 1,000 new plants to be developed in that time, creating 18,000 new skilled jobs across the country.

#5 Let’s stop the Emissions Trading System that penalizes natural gas

Methane, as it is known, is a fast-acting greenhouse gas that warms the atmosphere at a much faster rate than CO2. However, the UK Emissions Trading Scheme (UK-ETS) penalises biomethane as if it were a fossil gas, meaning there are no greenhouse gas mitigation benefits for biogas plants that reduce methane emissions. That’s why the organisation is calling for powers to be introduced to stop penalising the green gas.

#6 Commitment to develop a plan to decarbonize agriculture and use agricultural waste

Agriculture is too important to ignore in the decarbonisation effort. Harnessing the energy stored in agricultural waste is key. Agriculture is responsible for a significant proportion of the UK’s overall greenhouse gas emissions, accounting for 11% in 2020. Even more dramatically, agriculture contributes 69% of the UK’s nitrous oxide emissions and 48% of methane emissions, two potent greenhouse gases with a significantly higher global warming potential than CO2. The CCC has already identified AD as an essential part of decarbonising agriculture.

#7 Making local planning easier with guidance for every local authority

Local planning needs to be facilitated through guidance for each local authority. Many local authorities have never approved a natural gas plant before and are unfamiliar with the process. That is why ADBA is calling on the Government to support it in recognising AD as a key part of achieving net zero emissions targets. To do this, it needs to issue harmonised guidance to councils on new AD plants, treating them as the critical infrastructure they are.

#8 Making it easier to obtain permits and connect to the grid

Delays in permitting are one of the biggest challenges facing the industry. At its slowest, the process can take years. To change this, the Environment Agency and other licensing authorities need adequate funding and staffing. Connections to the gas and electricity grids need to be as easy as possible to fully develop the green gas industry. This is essential for new power stations. ADBA is supporting other renewables organisations in pressing the government to increase investment in network infrastructure to ensure that as much value as possible can be extracted from green gas.

#9 Ban food waste from landfill and introduce weekly food waste collection

The UK produces millions of tonnes of food waste every year. Too much still ends up in landfill. There should be absolutely no food waste going to landfill and this valuable resource should be put to good use by sending it for recycling via AD to produce valuable green gas.

#10 Reduce climate change caused by strong methane

Methane is a powerful greenhouse gas with a shorter atmospheric lifetime than CO2, but with a much higher global warming potential. Methane’s temperature response is incredibly dramatic in the short term, compared to carbon dioxide, which warms more slowly but lasts longer. By scaling up green gas we can ensure the UK meets its Global Methane Pledge targets and help to stop climate change by keeping methane in its tracks.

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