Charlotte Morton, chief executive, Anaerobic Digestion and Bioresources Association. I would like to raise some points about last week’s news article on anaerobic digestion (AD) plants (“Magic of ‘miracle’ green digesters fades as pioneers go bust”). First, AD plants are not subsidised by the EU, as Peter Evans states. Payments under the EU’s common agricultural policy (CAP) are not made to support renewable energy generation on farms. Farmers producing biogas from an AD plant can receive payments for producing renewable heat (from the renewable heat incentive, or RHI), electricity (from the feed-in tariff or renewables obligation), or transport fuel (from the renewable transport fuel obligation). All are entirely unrelated to the EU or the CAP. Second, despite the insolvencies, the UK AD industry is growing and is forecast to continue to do so. We expect as many as 50 new biomethane-to-grid plants to be built in the next 18 months as a result of restored RHI tariffs – a vital contribution to decarbonising the UK’s heat supply. As in all industries, it is not uncommon for AD plants to change hands as part of refinancing and upgrading arrangements, and we welcome all efforts to improve performance. Third, the suggestion that farmers find it difficult to run an AD plant alongside their farming operations does not correlate with our experience. A number of our members do exactly this and report a wide range of benefits including home-grown energy, better management of farm wastes and diversification of income. Purpose-grown AD crops are usually part of a traditional agricultural rotation, helping improve food crop yields and soil quality, or they are grown on marginal land. The amount of land used for crops for energy generation in England is less than 1% and lower across the devolved nations. AD has a vital role to play in recycling wastes, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and producing the renewable energy, clea n transport fuel, and soil-restoring biofertiliser the UK desperately needs.
Times 12th Aug 2018 read more »