I read with interest your coverage of the Conservative party conference last week, and specifically Mr Johnson’s pledge to provide £160 million to upgrade ports and factories for building wind turbines, to the extent that could generate enough electricity to power every home in the UK.
While his aspirations to help the country ‘build back greener’ are commendable, I can’t help but be disappointed that he does not openly support or even acknowledge wider renewable energy technologies.
It can only be hoped that the government will consider supporting other technologies, such as anaerobic digestion (AD), in the rest of their 10-point plan, promised to be released later this year, as we fight to overcome the biggest and most complex challenge of our time, climate change.
You may have seen earlier this year that the Anaerobic Digestion and Bioresources Association (ADBA) published their report, ‘Biomethane; the pathway to 2030’, highlighting the proven technology of AD and its potential to contribute towards achieving the UK’s net zero target.
The report shows that if AD is ‘backed’ by the government and private investors to enable the sector to reach its full potential in the UK, the technology is capable of processing 170 million tonnes of waste for renewable energy, generate 8 billion m3 biomethane, enough to heat 6.4 million homes, and save 27 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent.
Development of AD to its maximum potential could therefore reduce the UK’s total annual emissions by 6%, which represents 30% of the reductions needed to bring UK emissions within the target set out by the legally binding fifth Carbon Budget published in 2016.
As well as the obvious emissions reduction benefits, AD, if fully utilised to capacity, would result in £20 billion worth of investment into UK industry and the creation of 30,000 jobs, benefiting people and the economy.
There is no doubt that wind turbines can help provide electricity to homes in the UK, but surely the Prime Minister should be considering a multi-channel approach and looking at how other technologies can also support in achieving the 2050 net carbon aspirations, especially when considering heating of homes which is one of the most difficult to decarbonise sectors.
At Privilege Finance, a funding provider for renewable energy projects, we are hugely passionate about the role of AD in helping decarbonise the UK. Our ultimate vision is to raise awareness and bring AD and energy from waste to the top of the agenda.
We’ve recently launched an updated renewable energy from waste manifesto which reviews the industry’s progress from a social, economic and environmental perspective. Although clear progress has been made, there is still a long way to go if we are to ensure AD is one of the renewable energy technologies of choice.
Let’s hope that Mr Johnson can broaden his horizons and the long awaited 10-point plan and energy white paper exceed our expectations.
Director, Privilege Finance