It was enlightening to read about the Prime Minister’s plan for Britain’s green recovery last week. It is positive that green development is now firmly on the government’s agenda, backed up by a commitment to invest £12bn and the view to create 250,000 green jobs.
While I was encouraged to see renewable energy technologies within the ten-point plan, if given the chance, I would highlight to Mr Johnson that there is scope for other forms of renewables to contribute significantly towards Britain’s decarbonisation journey not just wind and hydrogen.
For example, with separate food waste collections due to come into play in England by 2023, it is worth highlighting the potential for food waste to be used to generate energy, while also resolving challenges with how to manage waste. This can be achieved using anaerobic digestion (AD), a process by which food waste is converted to biomethane gas that can be used to heat and power homes and businesses across the UK, replacing demand for its fossil fuel equivalent. The process has three key advantages:
- It does not require an overhaul of infrastructure to heat homes – biomethane works in standard domestic boilers, making it a cost-effective transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy
- Processing food waste using AD offers a waste management solution – it keeps waste out of landfill where it would be responsible for methane, a greenhouse gas with 84-86 times more global warming potential than carbon dioxide, directly entering the atmosphere
- The bi-product from AD is a valuable fertiliser for agricultural land – it can replace the reliance on synthetic fertilisers, the production of which results in significant carbon emissions, therefore contributing towards efforts to decarbonise the farming sector
Furthermore, carbon capture and storage (CCS), which is a part of Mr Johnson’s climate recovery strategy, can easily be used alongside biomethane production. The initial product produced during AD is a mixture of biomethane, carbon dioxide and other trace gases, which collectively is called biogas.
The biogas is then upgraded so that it is only biomethane being injected into the national grid. CCS can therefore be used in tandem with this process to capture the carbon dioxide removed from the biogas, preventing its release into the atmosphere, and further enabling AD to positively support the climate movement.
As a funder of renewable energy projects, I am optimistic that Mr Johnson’s plan for the green recovery is an indication that finding solutions to the climate crisis is finally nearing the top of the government’s agenda. As the greatest threat to humanity, it is like the penny has finally dropped for the Prime Minister and his cabinet. I also urge the government to be open to all solutions available and not to fall into the trap of seeing problems in separate boxes, such as a ‘need for renewables’ box and a ‘waste management’ box, as there are integrated approaches that can resolve multiple issues simultaneously.
Director, Privilege Finance
A response to Boris Johnson’s article in the Financial Times