Food waste: too valuable to throw away
Biogas: is your council about to waste your waste?
4th August, 2009
Biogas - a methane-rich fuel made from rotting food waste or sewage - has huge potential as a clean, green fuel for the UK. But a perverse web of subsidies, rules and contracts could mean UK councils are about to kiss goodbye to the real power of waste...
This could be a huge missed opportunity that will cost our children dear...
When David and Ruth of The Archers decided to set up an anaerobic digester to make biogas from farm waste, they quickly ran into trouble. Intended to produce electricity for the national grid and heat for their polytunnels, the project was defeated by boardroom bust-ups and NIMBY protests led by local battle-axe Linda Snell.
But the would-be energy entrepreneurs of Ambridge don’t know the half of it. The real-life obstacles to anaerobic digestion (AD) are massively greater, the unintended consequence of perverse British subsidies, EU deadlines and local authorities scrambling to sign long term PFI waste contracts. As a result, the potential of hundreds of thousands of tonnes of organic waste to produce sustainable energy and mitigate climate change could be squandered for up to 25 years.
Clean and green
Unlike most biofuels, the climate credentials of biogas are uncontestable. The AD process involves feeding organic wastes into a digestion plant that excludes oxygen, where microbes break it down to produce methane-rich biogas for energy, and a nutrient-laden ‘digestate’ that can be used to make fertilizer or compost. Because AD displaces fossil fuels and...
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