Biogas could power 2 mm homes in Britain

Feb 20, 2009 01:00 AM

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) is launching a task force to help sectors including farming and the water industry meet goals to produce energy from anaerobic digestion, which generates gas from the break down of organic material without oxygen.
According to DEFRA, the UK produces more than 100 mm tons of organic material per year that could be used to produce biogas, 90 mm tons of which come from manure and slurry. The National Farmers' Union has a target to have 1,000 on-farm anaerobic digestion (AD) plants by 2020, which will power farms and produce fertilisers as a by-product of the process.

Speaking at the NFU conference in Birmingham, Farming and Environment Minister Jane Kennedy is expected to say: "We're producing more organic waste in this country than we can handle, over 12 mm tons of food waste a year -- and farmers know too well the challenges of managing manure and slurry. There are alternatives to sending organic waste to landfill. Anaerobic digestion is a true solution."
"This material could produce enough heat and power to run more than 2 mm homes -- helping to prevent dangerous climate change by providing a renewable energy source as well as reducing our reliance on landfill. Farmers, I know, share this vision of making the UK world leaders in this innovative technology and I applaud their aim for 1,000 on-farm AD plants by 2020 to power their operations, as well as using the leftovers as bio-fertiliser."

Anaerobic digestion uses a natural process in which organic matter, including slurry, food waste and manure is broken down by bacteria in the absence of oxygen to produce biogas which can be used for heating or to produce electricity. Along with farmers, sectors including water, energy, waste and food and retail have signed up to goals for introducing anaerobic digestion to create power by 2020.
The Government is publishing a report which will outline ambitions for developing anaerobic digestion nationally and for individual sectors and details of the task group, which will be chaired the Chartered Institution for Waste Management chief executive, Steve Lee.

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