Biogas plants will need 5.5mt of feedstock by 2013
A new study from Enagri has revealed that a combination of announced and operational biogas plants across the UK could need at least 5.5 million tonnes of feedstock by the end of 2013.
The Directory of UK Biogas Plants 2011, the first comprehensive survey of anaerobic digestion (AD) projects in the UK, will be launched at this year's Cereals 2011.
Despite concerns about the low uptake of the Feed-in-Tariff by biogas plants, the study showed there could be around 150 on-farm and waste-fuelled biogas plants in the country in two years time.
There is also considerable growth and expansion in the utilisation of sewage gas to produce renewable energy at water treatment plants.
An analysis of published information on feedstocks shows large regional differences, together with the fact that the more than 680,000t of feedstock a year has not yet been disclosed by developers. Of this, the greatest concentration of unknown fuels is in Yorkshire, Lincolnshire and central Scotland.
Energy crops grown specifically for use in digesters account for just 5% of identified feedstock and are most popular in the East Midlands, while waste from animal husbandry (including slurry, manure and poultry litter) accounts for around 6%, with the main concentration of developments in Dorset and the south west.
Municipal waste could account for half of all the feedstocks used and there is particularly strong demand for this in the urban north west and the south east.
Surprisingly potential demand from projects in Kent could see the county treating the greatest quantity of waste, with demand forecast to reach 750,000 tonnes a year if announced projects go ahead.
"The geographical differences in feedstock are interesting," said Enagri's managing editor Richard Crowhurst. "They show that, on the whole, developers are looking to build plants which utilise the most abundant feedstock in the region, with some of the biggest municipal waste fuelled plants."
In terms of which companies are behind which projects, the picture is less clear. Some companies build and operate plants while others hand over the running to another company.
"Biogen Greenfinch is the clear leader in the UK market," said Mr Crowhurst. "They have provided, or are providing, technology for 15 plants, although this figure includes seven or eight from Greenfinch before the two companies merged, and the company operates a number of these plants themselves."
Many companies have pipelines of projects, but due to the difficulties of obtaining planning permission and financing, many are not announced until a formal planning application is submitted.
As well as Biogen Greenfinch, Community Renewable Energy North West (CoRE), Future Biogas, Agrivert and Farmgen are forging ahead with new developments. The major technology providers include Edina, Monsal, WELtec BioPower, Biogas Nord and Biogas Hochreiter.
The report includes information on 69 on-farm biogas plants, 83 waste treatment AD plants and lists more than 50 plants in operation at water treatment works.