With just over one week to go before UK AD and World Biogas Expo 2019, Lucy Hopwood, Company Director and Lead Consultant – Bioenergy & Anaerobic Digestion at NNFCC, sets the scene ahead of her presentation in the Future Farming theatre on 3rd July.
Maximising the value and potential of agri-food waste
We published our sixth annual AD Deployment in the UK report in May, reporting that just 13 new AD plants had been commissioned in the previous 12 months. However, it’s evident that the latest deployment figures don’t reflect the level of activity we’ve seen in recent months.
With 32 biomethane plants having now secured an RHI tariff guarantee and 39 AD plants applying for FIT pre-accreditation before the scheme closed in March, there’s clearly been a lot of work going on “behind the scenes” effectively. Hopefully, the RHI extension announcement and the new Smart Export Guarantee (SEG) will be enough to retain interest and activity in the UK in coming years.
Of course, there remains the cross-cutting theme of sustainability to consider, and that’s where we’ve been inundated with requests for help over the past year. From individuals needing a beginner’s guide, to larger-scale developers wanting compliance confidence, and feedstock suppliers managing and mitigating risks – we’ve seen it all. It’s not only the greenhouse gas (GHG) calculations that are baffling people, it’s the new feedstock restrictions, the need to classify and reclassify feedstocks according to ever-changing guidance, and the constant political drive to use waste, waste and more waste!
The most obvious waste for AD is food waste, especially since the recent Resource and Waste Strategy made a promise to roll-out separate food waste collections nationally by 2023, getting developers and existing operators excited. However, there’s a huge untapped resource in the agri-food supply chain, and this has been a focus of our efforts for the past three years as partners in AgroCycle, an €8 million Horizon 2020 research project addressing the recycling and valorisation of waste from the agri-food sector.
We’ve been responsible for quantifying arisings, mapping out value chains, and developing new and novel business models to make better use of the wastes generated in agriculture. AD features strongly in many of the business models, alongside other higher-value sectors such as biobased fuels, chemicals and materials.