Anaerobic digestion strategy and action plan 2013


Source: KIRK UK

DEFRA has released the latest AD Action Plan and Strategy, following from the report in June 2011. The report is designed to deliver the government’s commitment to increase the energy from waste produced through AD.

The number of plants in the UK has risen to 110 up from 68 since September 2011. More than 200 projects currently have received planning permission.


Tackling the barriers

DEFRA has funded for three years the NNFCC to run the Biogas Portal  . Discussions with stakeholders are on-going about the future of the portal after government funding ends in March 2014.

During this year WRAP established a ‘food waste resource portal’ FWRP which brings together information on feedstocks for AD. This information is produced in a wide variety of formats and from numerous sources. Collating the data via the FWRP should make it easier for AD developers to identify potential feedstocks supplies. As part of its three years fund for demonstrating projects on good practice in food waste collections from business, WRAP set up ten demonstration projects in summer 2012 and a report will be available at the end of the year. WRAP also carried out a project to look at existing financial models for AD and to check whether there are gaps within them.

Building safe and secure markets for digestate

The continuing expansion of the AD sector makes it even more important that markets are developed which recognise the value of digestate as a fertiliser: identifying potential markets, demonstrating the potential benefits, addressing concerns from stakeholders. The most substantial part of this programme is the joint WRAP / DEFRA programme of field trials to demonstrate the benefits of using digestate in agriculture. Results to date have shown the importance of applying digestate during the growing season where significant benefits to the crop are demonstrated. The trials will be largely complete by March 2014 ( There is also a suite of projects through which WRAP is identifying market opportunities for digestate in other sectors such as landscaping and regeneration. WRAP’s work on assessing the safety of digestate and responding to market concerns aims to produce a bio-fertiliser matrix: this aims to provide clear guidance on the use of digestate in a simple format – this should be published this financial year.

Raising awareness of AD – community AD and localism

Actions in this area were largely to have been completed through the development of a toolkit for AD but this has not been done because of failure of an EU funding bid. ADBA and other partners are continuing discussions on how to take this action forward. ADBA is now progressing the development of a best practice scheme which will take this work forward over the coming year.

AD in the rural community

There is developing interest in the part that AD can play in the rural community, particularly in the role that small scale on-farm AD can play in helping farmers to manage the wastes on their farms. WRAP is administering a £15m Rural Communities Energy Fund which will offer funding to community groups in rural areas in England for feasibility studies and to assist in the preparation of planning applications for renewable energy projects.


The actions in this area have been completed except for two on-going activities: the provision of up to date diligence templates and regular meetings with the finance community. ADBA’s Finance Forum is continuing to meet with DEFRA and WRAP participation.

The Anaerobic Digestion Loan Fund made a second loan this year to Emerald Biogas and two further loans have been offered subject to due diligence. Since the Loan Fund was set up, the Green Investment Bank has started to operate. The Bank published its first market report on AD in June 2013 which found that while the sector was growing it remains highly fragmented and immature with most facilities in the UK having been in operation for less than 3 years. The critical factors for project success were feedstock selectivity; deep understanding of, and access to local markets for digestate, dedicated operating personnel and active process management. The report concluded that the risk profile for AD meant that equity funding continues to be the best option for initial funding of projects.


During the year, the Environment Agency, with DEFRA support, established a biowaste regulatory forum to help ensure that the regulatory framework and practices maximise the benefits gained from biowastes, whilst minimising the impact on the environment.

There have been a number of pollution incidents involving AD plants, the Environment Agency is working with industry and will publish a report on lessons learned from incidents on site to help improve future performance across the industry. The Agency also continues to progress the actions from the AD Action Plan, completing its work revising the Standard Rules that apply to AD.

At the European Union level, the European Commission’s technical experts have continued to develop proposals for possible EU-wide end of waste criteria. If adopted, such proposals would replace the current UK criteria in determining when digestate is no longer classified as waste. There is no certainty that the EU will adopt end of waste criteria or, if they do, when the criteria would come into effect.

To view the full report click HERE

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