Saturday, November 14, 2015

Anaerobic Digestion Companies Grow From Hundreds to Over a Thousand in Just 10 Short Years

Anaerobic digestion companies are a major growth sector within the global marketplace. Until 10 years ago there were probably no more than 100 companies in the developed nations which were actively trading as anaerobic digestion companies, or perhaps would also have been known as biogas companies, and now there are likely to be over a thousand.

Anaerobic Digestion (AD) is a natural process which will never be patented, it is as old as life on earth. The process was one of the very first to evolve on earth, we know that because AD was taking place before there was oxygen in the earth's atmosphere. AD is simply the umbrella term for any reaction where plant and animal materials (known as biomass) are broken down by micro-organisms without there being any air present. In fact anaerobic digestion only takes place when air is not available, at least not enough is present for aerobic degradation, and it makes methane gas as an inevitable consequence of the sequence of complex biochemical reactions it entails.

The process being more than a short time "out of patent" (millions of years!?), leads to the possibility that anyone can design and build AD Plants using this process, and many companies have been created to do just that!

Main Types of Anaerobic Digestion Companies

There are now a number of different types of anaerobic digestion companies. There are anaerobic digestion specialist companies which will design, build, and construct a complete AD Plant (DBC Contractors). Some of those contractors will go further than that even and will maintain and operate their AD Plants as well as DBOOT Contractors (Design, Build, Own, Operate, Transfer).

There are also specialist contractors, calling themselves AD Companies, which design and build just part of a biogas plant, such as the heat exchangers, and/or CHP equipment

Within the sector of Design and Build Contractors in the developed nations  these companies are usually, as a general rule, specialist companies in one, or at most two, of the following anaerobic digestion plant client sectors:

a) Sewage sludge treatment and biogas production
b) Agricultural sector biogas plants
c) Waste Management Sector anaerobic digestion plants for processing the organic content of residual (also known as "black bag") household domestic waste, and food waste biogas plants.

Some of these companies specialise in one of the commonly optimised temperature ranges of biogas reactors, this being in either mesophilic or thermophilic biogas plants, and others offer two stage AD Plant variants in pursuit of improved reliability, efficiency and better profitability.

In all these sectors you will now also find both companies (i) which apply the normal accepted design criteria to their plants, and, (ii) innovation companies that offer what are presented as "high-tech" versions of the standard biogas plant, which claim, and in many cases no-doubt do achieve, higher gas yields and lower sacrificial energy burdened plants.

The normal accepted "standard" design for biogas plants is the process which is known as a completely mixed reactor process AD Plant. This is the most "tried and tested" type. These comprise 90%, or more, of the anaerobic digestion plants which can be seen dotted about the landscape. They are easily spotted for their large circular based reactor tanks, over which there is is a plastic material covered dome, in which the biogas collects.

However, as soon as someone creates a "rule" there are always examples which break it! That is certainly the case for a number of anaerobic digestion companies which operate novel digester designs.

Examples of these are the contractors which have developed their own designs in the following types of biogas processes:

a) Dry Anaerobic Digestion
b) Low Temperature Anaerobic Digestion and Low Organic Solids Content feedstocks
c) Ultra high temperature (ocean floor fumerole) micro-organism elevated pressure type reactors.
d) Upflow Anaerobic Sludge Blanket (UASB) reactors.

Then there are also companies offering optimised plug flow Anaerobic digestion processes, and those that provide a technology which is claimed by its advocats to hold the advantages of both completely mixed reactors and plug-flow reactors, known as hybrid anaerobic digestion plant designs.

This all may seem to add-up to a highly complex and confusing market for the newcomer to anaerobic digestion to navigate through in order to find the best anaerobic digestion company for their needs. So, we will now try to make it a little easier, by directing you toward some of the players in this market, as below:

Examples of Anaerobic Digestion Contractors

Cambi AS was one of the first AD Plant Contractors. It is:

"an international supplier and operator of advanced and profitable sludge and biowaste treatment plants. The plants are based on Cambi`s patented Thermal Hydrolysis Process (THP), a pretreatment for anaerobic digestion. The THP significantly increases biogas production and digester loading, increases dewaterability and produces a pasteurized biosolids/soil ...
Bioprocess Control is a technology and market leader in the area of Advanced Instrumentation & Control Technologies for research and commercial applications in the biogas industry. The company was founded in 2006, and today brings to market more than 15 years of industry leading research in the area of instrumentation, control and automation of anaerobic digestion ...
Organic Recycling Systems Private Limited (ORS) is one of the pioneering companies in the field of organic waste processing and treatment. We provide products, services and solutions for efficient waste management. We convert waste into resource. By utilising our technical collaborations, we have introduced leading innovative technologies in India. We combine our ...
Zero Waste Energy, LLC was founded in 2009 and incorporated in 2010 in San Jose, California, by an experienced group of innovative solid waste industry leaders. They recognized the value in the best use of waste feedstock and the systems needed to sort out high value commodities and to generate renewable energy. ZWE’s principal goal has been to design, construct, and ...
SEaB is an international, UK based company working in the renewable energy and energy from waste sectors. The company is located at the University of Southampton Science Park in Chilworth on the outskirts of Southampton, UK.SEaB has developed and patented MUCKBUSTER® and Flexibuster™ compact easy to install turnkey anaerobic digestion (AD) systems which have the potential ...
NorthEast Biogas, LLC works with organic waste producers to profitably generate renewable energy, capture value of greenhouse gas emission reductions, mitigate environmental risks, create new revenue streams, and reduce waste management costs. We use only proven technology systems from a variety of manufacturers, chosen to best match site specific needs, and, as the ...
Two anaerobic digestion technology companies in the United Kingdom Biogen Ltd. and Greenfinch Ltd. [have merged] to form BiogenGreenfinch. The newly formed company will be supported by a $28 million investment from Bedfordia Group PLC, the parent company of Biogen, according to Dan Poulson, chief executive officer of  BiogenGreenfinch.
Established in 2005, Biogen funds, builds, and operates anaerobic digestion plants that convert food waste and animal manure slurry into biogas and fertilizer. Greenfinch is a process engineering company with more than 30 years of experience providing anaerobic digestion technology for the processing of sewage, manure, and food waste. Together, the companies have developed 12 anaerobic digestion plants throughout the U.K. The new company BiogenGreenfinch will employ 43 people.

A number of these contractors are featured on the Biogas Installer website here.

Saturday, November 07, 2015

CHP and 3 Important Considerations When Designing Combined Heat and Power Systems

An Introduction to CHP

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Combined heat and power (CHP) systems, are also known as cogeneration systems, and they greatly improve the usable energy output from electricity generation systems. When a gas engine or turbine is used to generate electricity without CHP, after the electricity leaving the site, there is also hot "cooling water" that is used to keep the jacket around the engine and generator windings cool.

Usually, this heat energy is not used, and goes to a cooling plant, which is usually primarily a radiator and a fan based cooler which vents the heat to the atmosphere. In CHP (combined heat and power) systems, that heat is used in some way, and the most common method is to send the hot water through an insulated pipeline to a space heating radiator in a remote office, or factory, or the hot water delivered may be used to warm more water for industrial hot water uses. The result is that CHP provides a lot more useful thermal energy in an integrated system.

This means that CHP is not a technology, but a concept, there are many ways to apply different technologies to CHP. Heat is used when it would otherwise be wasted during the normal methods which of separate generation of heat and power. It is hard to appreciate just how big the benefits of CHP can be. Experts say that the conventional methods of producing usable heat and power separately usually achieves no better than a combined efficiency of use of the original energy output of 45%, amazingly CHP systems operate at levels as close to 80%. Just stop to think for a moment now, just how wasteful the normal method is.

3 Important Considerations When Designing Combined Heat and Power Systems

  1. Payoffs for adding CHP to an existing biogas generation plant installation can be fast, and as quick as 12 to 18 months, but not always. It is essential to do some detailed analysis of the true value of the heat you will gain from installing heat exchangers to output this useful hot water. The heat (hot water) from any CHP system is only going to be as hot as it now enters the cooling system. Check that this will be hot enough for the purpose the hot water, or heat will be used. For space heating it is usually fine, but just remember that it will not be hotter than the cooling jacket temperature.
  2. Next check the synergy of time. The hot water produced will need to be output at the times when it is needed. For example, if the heat is to be used for crop drying, does the crop drying requirement coincide seasonally with the usage of the generation equipment? That output may be used, in some cases, only at times when the electricity company pays the best rate each day for the power. Conflicts of this sort are likely to occur, and this is not a problem as long as the calculation of the value of the CHP power is done in a way that makes due allowance for them. Although there may be on-farm uses they may prove to give a lower payback than for instance installing a longer insulated pipeline to a nearby factory which has a 24/7 demand for hot process water.
  3. Make sure that you also make a realistic evaluation of the current costs of the power that the CHP energy source would replace. At the current time of writing, electricity tariffs and diesel costs per litre have been dropping due to the low cost of oil. Take a view on the extent to which that drop may continue and build-in a margin for a further potential drop, making sure that the investment decision takes a cautious approach.

You may also find the following article useful:

The Biogas Engine – Defined And How They Provide Biogas Generation of Electricity

There are a number of advanced and proven gas engines utilized for biogas generation by the biogas generator manufacturers. They are maximized for biogas use, in a way that ensures that their combustion chambers provide the highest degree of performance possible.

Lubricating oil is dispersed throughout the engine’s moving components to keep the tool running smoothly as well as to lower wear. Proper treatment and also upkeep of the generator engine will certainly guarantee many years of problem complimentary usage.

Nevertheless, failure to deal with normal upkeep is a sure means to attractive trouble. This is definitely real when it comes to the engine’s lubricating oil.

The post The Biogas Engine – Defined And How They Provide Biogas Generation of Electricity appeared first on Anaerobic Digestion Community Website.

via The Biogas Engine – Defined And How They Provide Biogas Generation of Electricity

Wednesday, November 04, 2015

Availability of Vast Untapped Biogas Energy Confirmed in 2 New Reports

Anaerobic energy has had a good week. It is being heavily backed, firstly by the big guns at the UN, in a new report, and by a biogas technology company showing evidence that by autoclaving ("pressure cooking") black bag (mixed) residual waste a quadrupling of the biogas can be achieved.

This abundance is amazing, and estimates of the amount of energy available from the AD process just keep rising!

We have included extracts from the original articles below:

"Vast Biogas Energy Potential in Human Waste"

Biogas from human waste, safely obtained under controlled circumstances using innovative technologies, is a potential fuel source great enough in theory to generate electricity for up to 138 million households – the number of households in Indonesia, Brazil, and Ethiopia combined.
A report from UN University’s Canadian-based Institute for Water, Environment and Health estimates that biogas potentially available from human waste worldwide would have a value of up to US$ 9.5 billion in natural gas equivalent.
And the residue, dried and charred, could produce 2 million tonnes of charcoal-equivalent fuel, curbing the destruction of trees.

Experts say, that the large energy value would prove small relative to that of the global health and environmental benefits that would accrue from the safe treatment of human waste in low-resource settings. 
“Rather than treating our waste as a major liability, with proper controls in place we can use it in several circumstances to build innovative and sustained financing for development while protecting health and improving our environment in the process,” according to the report, “Valuing Human Waste as an Energy Resource.”
The report uses average waste volume statistics, high and low assumptions for the percentage of concentrated combustable solids contained (25 – 45%), its conversion into biogas and charcoal-like fuel and their thermal equivalents (natural gas and charcoal), to calculate the potential energy value of human waste.
Biogas, approximately 60% methane by volume, is generated through the bacterial breakdown of faecal matter, and any other organic matter, in an oxygen free (anaerobic) system.

Dried and charred faecal sludge, meanwhile, has energy content similar to coal and charcoal.UN figures show that 2.4 billion people lack access to improved sanitation facilities and almost 1 billion people (about 60% of them in India) don’t use toilets at all, defecating instead in the open.
If the waste of only those practicing open defecation was targeted, the financial value of biogas potentially generated exceeds US$ 200 million per year and could reach as high as $376 million.
The energy value would equal that of the fuel needed to generate electricity for 10 million to 18 million local households. Processing the residual faecal sludge, meanwhile, would yield the equivalent of 4.8 million to 8.5 million tonnes of charcoal to help power industrial furnaces, for example.
via Vast Biogas Energy Potential in Human Waste - Solar Thermal Magazine

Below is an extract from the Waste Management World article:

Autoclaved MSW Could Quadruple Biogas Production from Anaerobic Digestion

Waste Management World - Aerothermal Group, has published research which is claimed to prove that pre-treating black bag municipal waste in an autoclave before sending it to anaerobic digestion could increase methane generation by over 300% and substantially reduce the amount sent to landfill... and more »

The above articles vindicate our faith in the huge and ever-rising importance of anaerobic digestion and biogas, which we have reported in this blog for almost 10 years.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Anaerobic Digestion vs Composting - Which Is Best? A Westerners' Opinion*

This article has been created to answer the question Anaerobic Digestion vs Composting, which is best?

As videos are so popular now, we also created a video which has the same text as this article. If you prefer to watch a video, you are welcome to watch the video below. 

This question is often asked by people who are interested in what their rates (local taxes for household waste collection and disposal) are being spent on, and whether there are better options.

These people often live in a district where they have known that their green garden waste is being sent to a composting facility, or it is proposed that in future it will be sent to one. They may also have heard that this type of waste can also be sent to an anaerobic digestion (AD) plant.

Either method is better than sending this waste to a landfill, but which of these two alternative methods is really best?

* "A Westerner's Opinion"; refers to the fact that what circumstances vary so much in the developing nations that what may be "best" in the developed west may not necessarily be best in the developing nations.

Anaerobic Digestion vs Composting - Our Opinion

In such circumstances, lower initial capital investment needed to start a composting facility than is needed for an AD Plant, but spending that money provides a facility which is much more environmentally sustainable.

The reason that anaerobic digestion is much more environmentally sustainable is due to the fact that it creates a form of renewable energy that is extremely valuable. and it does so with the smallest carbon emissions possible.

That energy is produced in the biogas output, but in addition, just like composting the AD process also produces a fertiliser and that fertiliser is as good or better than that produced by composting.
In fact, the fibrous output from a green waste AD plant still needs to be "composted" after it has passed through the anaerobic digestion process, if it is to be used as a high quality organic compost for improved crop growth.

Many people consider that composting is not environmentally friendly because it consumes a lot of fossil fuel, to make it. This is for its transportation and for energy used during the composting process to turn it over regularly and then after it has matured, to sieve it and remove the large particles.
So to conclude, the common view is usually that, anaerobic digestion is best, but if it cannot be done for any reason, composting is the second best.

In fact, a good strategy for a community seeking to become more environmentally sustainable, may be to start by building a composting facilty, and then add an anaerobic digestion plant to the facility later.

We found some other articles on this subject, which you might find interesting, below:

Several states and major metro areas recently implemented bans on food Anaerobic Digestion Benefits With rapid population growth and industrialization, the amount of organic waste we produce has greatly increased. Organic waste is produced in many forms like food waste, human and animal waste, and agricultural waste. Organic waste is not actually a 'waste' if handled properly. ... Kitchen waste may contain non-organic material like plastic-packaging, which cannot be digested or composted. Human and animal fecal waste; Agricultural waste: It ... Credits: Organic Waste Recycling by Anaerobic Digestion - Energy Recyclers

Anaerobic digestion can be used to prevent waste going to landfills and, instead, indicated sending the discarded food to composting or anaerobic digestion operations. Wasted food is typically an excellent source of energy in an ... only simple pre-screening often make their way into wet digesters. One such scenario could involve screened and pulped waste collected from a university kitchen or a grocery store's prepared foods kitchenCredits: Containing Food Waste Contamination Essential for Anaerobic ...

This portable anaerobic digestion system can accept a wide variety of organic waste materials, ranging from kitchen scraps and yard waste to paper products, and generate both liquid fertilizer and energy in the form of biogas ... Credits: This HORSE converts food waste into fertilizer and energy ...

That is our view of anaerobic digestion vs composting, if you think differently, or agree, we would welcome your comments below.

Friday, September 18, 2015

5 Undeniable Advantages of Anaerobic Digestion the Industry Has Failed to Publicize

The UK anaerobic digestion industry has done very well in recent years, with a huge growth in the number of AD Plants, but are new UK government policies are about to reverse all this against a background of media distaste for anything to do with anything mucky, and public apathy?

That there has been great progress is clear from the following quote taken from a recent article published in Resource by Charlotte Morton, Chief Executive of the Anaerobic Digestion & Bioresources Association (ADBA), in which she explains that:

"The [UK] anaerobic digestion (AD) industry recently celebrated the passing of a huge industry milestone, with the announcement that over 400 biogas plants are now in operation as a result of over 600 per cent growth outside the water sector over the past five years.* In total, the AD industry now delivers a combined electrical equivalent capacity (electricity and biomethane) of over 514 megawatts - equivalent to the remaining capacity of one of the UK's nuclear power plants, Wylfa, which is being decommissioned this year.
With almost 100 plants expected to be commissioned by the end of this year, mirroring last year's growth surge in which AD's electrical capacity grew by 40 per cent, the industry's prospects should look encouraging for developers, operators and investors alike. Sadly, however, quite the opposite is true as the government's spending axe has fallen sharply on vital support for renewables."

Read the full article here.

Clearly, the UK government either does not understand the real benefits which AD offers, or is willfully pandering to the whims of the entirely discredited "climate change deniers" which remain within the Conservative party.

The leading trade association within the UK anaerobic digestion says that the industry is working to demonstrate the excellent return on investment, which anaerobic digestion (biogas) plants provides. This advantages are, is in our opinion, not only advantageous for its owners, but also for the government, and society as a whole.

That the message is failing to be made effectively is against common sense, is illogical, and will set back the UK, and the UK's previously benign influence on global decarbonisation by many years.
The media frequently talks constantly about wind, tide, and solar power, but almost never about anaerobic digestion. Within the BBC, the only programme which fairly regularly talks about AD is Countryfile. Elsewhere, heaven forbid that they mention anything as distasteful as waste food, or "sludge". Do they think that nice people would rather not be reminded of their wasteful habits?

And, yet the advantages of anaerobic digestion are real, and substantial, and here are some that seldom get aired, but everyone who knows about AD should be singing these 5 benefits from the rooftops:

1. AD is Cost Effective and Low Risk

The case for AD needs no help from any unfashionable "green" notions, although it has many advantages in this area. AD technology improvements mean that the energy it provides will be cheaper than nuclear by the time England's only new nuclear plant actively in development comes online.

AD provides localised generation without all the inherent risks of huge power station project developments which the government dictates must be implemented without direct government investment. Lack of government investment means lack of control over commercial nuclear plant programmes. The Hinkley Point C Nuclear Facility planned for Somerset, is already 6 years late before building even starts.

At the same time AD is reducing the UK's carbon emissions by four per cent, a huge number for a single technology. It also remains highly questionable how much nuclear saves on carbon emissions when decommissioning energy use and storage for thousands of years is truly factored-in.

2. Benefits to the Local Economy, Improved Agricultural Productivity and Improved UK Global Competitiveness

AD provides benefits to the local economy from employment which employs more people per megawatt than nuclear ever will. It is, according to ADBA already employing 4,500 people, and if the government does not crush the current upward trend, the industry will soon potentially employ over 30,000 more people. These jobs will be in construction, transport, waste collection, manufacturing and engineering.

Who could pretend this potential is not worth protecting? But also, on-site AD is a win-win for the way it boosts the economic and environmental sustainability of farming and enables food production with less imported fertilizer.

But it doesn't stop there. By developing a core of AD businesses with world-class expertise in biogas production and all its uses, the value of the very large export markets that is just starting create for the UK biogas market sector can help massively to re-balance the UK economy toward exports worth billions. The US alone is planning for over 10,000 AD plants within the next 5 years, and that's just one market.

3. Security of Gas Production and Provision of 24/7 Available Electricity

The government has to plan for providing the nation with secure energy sources, sources which can be relied upon in a world of increasing political turmoil. The pressing need for the availability of home-produced gas supplies, is partly why the current UK government is willing to weather the inevitable protests from its core voting supporters from pushing forward with the development of fracking. Why must we frack when we can make biogas?

There is an obvious economic benefit in balancing the intermittency of other renewable, because unless sufficient power is available at all times the nation will suffer hugely costly power cuts. The "baseload" electrical output that AD supplies is capable of doing this, and is much more valuable to the power industry than the unpredictable energy produced by wind and solar. That's proven by the way that the power industry is prepared to pay for it.

So, why build nuclear until all AD feed materials have been used up, when rather than the money being paid to overseas investors it goes back into the pockets of local people through a myriad of agricultural AD plants?

The UK AD industry according to ABDA, if fully developed, can deliver a massive 30% of the UK's domestic gas demand.

AD by generating power locally and reducing the need to ship massive amounts of energy around the country reduces the need to reinforce the national power grid, and ADBA estimates this to be worth about £30 per megawatt hour (MWh).

Don't forget either, that power generated and consumed locally does not end-up unavoidably heating up the wires it flows through. When most of the power comes from no more than a dozen or so regional power stations, as it does now, this energy never reaches the homes and factories it was destined for and is completely wasted. Distributed power of the sort AD provides could reduce these power losses by 30% according to some experts. That means that with AD the UK could scrap 3 power stations, and not replace them!

4.  EU Recycling Target Failure Without AD

AD is the best treatment option for food waste, by the UK government's own declaration. Without AD and large scale separate food waste collections, there is no way that the UK/ England can meet the government's own recycling targets. The public when asked, wants "zero waste" or 100% recycling, so any government which subjects the nation to a failure so undeniable that the nation has to pay EU fines, had better watch out for a major backlash from public opinion.

5. AD is Made for Decarbonising Transport and CHP Heat

Electric cars sound like a great idea, but achieve nothing more than reducing roadside emissions many of which are caused by earlier government policies which encouraged the adoption diesel fuelled cars, is futile if the electricity is made from fossil fuels.

AD plants are increasingly being upgraded to produce a very pure "natural gas" substitute known as biomethane, and new membrane technologies are helping to bring this to many more AD plants. Biomethane from the crude biogas made by AD provides renewable energy in the form of gas. This high energy gas can do much more to help with decarbonising (reducing the carbon emissions of) heavy goods vehicles (HGVs), buses and this gas also happens to be ideal for supplying CHP heat networks otherwise using fossil fuel derived natural gas.


This has been a long article, but the length is also a testimony to the amazing benefits of the AD process, and the skill in recent years of a young AD industry to innovate and develop the technology rapidly.

With all the benefits of AD it is hard to explain them quickly. Will all this be lost to apathy, and a press increasingly incapable of delivering more than a 30 second soundbite?

The message speaks for itself. Do more to spread the word!

We hope that those that have read this article to its fullest, will now be inspired to persuade others, at all potential opportunities of the folly of the present UK governments policies toward AD which, if continued, are most likely to throw another winning UK technology onto the scrapheap like so many other leading UK technologies throughout recent history.

Friday, July 31, 2015

Do Anaerobic Digestion Plants Smell?

Anaerobic digestion plant smell is a very highly debated subject, and whenever most new AD (biogas) plants are proposed (and a planning application is submitted) it is a topic of great concern to every local resident. With that in mind, I expected to see any number of articles on this topic when I looked on the web. So, I looked, and I didn't find them.

To my surprise I found that there are numerous website pages written by AD Plant objectors about specific planning applications, and by journalists reporting on what those same AD plant objectors were saying for local papers. But, nowhere did I see an attempt at presenting a rational view on this vexing question. It is an important subject, so I thought that I would write this piece in an attempt to present a "balanced" view on whether anaerobic digestion plants really do smell.

First of all. Let's be perfectly honest, these plants handle organic materials and at times these will already be starting to decompose as soon as they reach the AD Plant site. Once on-site the anaerobic digestion process itself is inherently smelly. Nobody could truly say that there is not a potential odour problem for all biogas plants. Decomposition (rotting) of organic matter produces some of the most offensive odours known to man, and decomposition is what the anaerobic digestion process is all about.

So, anaerobic digestion smells? Well to put a finer point to it, the materials which are fed into a biogas reactor can smell unpleasantly, and the output which is known as "digestate" (simply meaning the liquid and fibre which is left-over after the biogas gas-making reaction has occurred) invariably has a nasty odour, when it is first exposed to the air.

But, that categorically does not mean that an anaerobic digestion PLANT will smell, nor that anaerobic digestion plants are smelly. They can and should be operated responsibly, and with adequate design provisions for covered and air-sealed spaces, where the odour producing activities will take place. The great majority produce less odour than an average Dairy or intensive Chicken rearing farm.

As in all walks of life, some people do fail to run their biogas facilities in a responsible manner, and there are regulations against causing odour nuisance which will always need to be policed alongside other environmental protection legislation. Commercial scale Anaerobic Digestion Plants in the UK, and in most other jurisdictions too, are subject to permitting requirements, and if these are not met, bodies like the UK Environment Agency have powers to close down the AD facility if an odour-nuisance persists.

Odour that is produced by the AD process, can and must be contained and the ventilated air is filtered to remove any odour, before it is blown out through the ventilation system. The technology is routinely available for this, and when correctly applied, the view of many people is that anaerobic digestion plants don't smell. In truth, they routinely create less odour than the farmyard next door.

For any resident who is concerned about a new AD plant planning application being approved, due to their concerns about smells, we would suggest that they conduct some fairly simple research. Find out where there are already biogas plants in your area, and make a visit. Go, get out of your car for a minute, draw a deep breath, and stand on the public roadside, and draw in the air, and smell for yourself.

In my area there are already 4 anaerobic digestion plants within a mile and a half, of where I live and they are all two or more years old, but I have never smelled them outside of the property where each is located. When I have been detected a suspicious odour I have found that the offending odour was in fact the result of general farming activities and not the AD plant.


The anaerobic digestion process has a bad smell, but as long as it is kept sealed in by good practices in the operation of the leachate plant, or other waste disposal method, provided at sanitary landfills, there is no reason for the AD Facility to produce an unpleasant odour.

Monday, July 06, 2015

55% Growth in Anaerobic Digestion Capacity in the UK in 2013/14 Announced

The official Anaerobic Digestion UK figures are out, and confirms that there was an amazing 55% Growth in Anaerobic Digestion Capacity in the UK over the 12 months 2013/14. This massive over 50% growth, is described simply as being "significant growth", by WRAP (the compiler of these figures - See the EAEM Press Release, which is copied in full below).

In any other sector this rate of growth would be considered to be huge, and the national press would be full of the achievement. So, why is this latest ASORI report announcement being treated in such a luke-warm manner?

We suggest that the reason for this is that the officials are embarrassed to have missed their own target by a large margin, as follows (see the extract from below). The achievement of 117 operational biogas sites in the UK at the end of 2014, showed even then, that they were not going to get anywhere near the government's 2011 target of 1,000 operational AD Plants for 2015, and they could not therefore declare it for the success that it undoubtedly has been.

To help convey how far the projections fall short of the target, we have included below part of an article by Energy and Environmental Management (EAEM) Magazine. This explains that the current operational AD Plant number has been growing a lot more rapidly since that time, with the pace of plant commissioning accelerating. Currently, there are 400 Anaerobic Digestion plants now in use according to EAEM Magazine. 

At this rate the magic figure of 1,000 AD Plants in operation in the UK, will finally only be reached some time in 2017.

AD Sees Significant Growth Says Latest Sector Survey

Anaerobic digestion (AD) has grown significantly in the UK, according to the latest sector survey (ASORI), published today by WRAP.
WRAP’s comprehensive study of the AD sector (which complements the Scottish survey of the organics reprocessing industry – also published today, by Zero Waste Scotland*), for the calendar year 2013, shows that:
  • the number of operational sites increased by 34% (up from 87 to 117);
  • operating capacity is up by 55% (from 2.07mt to 3.20mt);
  • 51% more organic material is being processed (from 1.69mt to 2.55mt); and,
  • employment in the sector has increased by 36% (with 482 full-time equivalent jobs compared to 354 in 2012).
In addition, there has been an increase in all the types of feedstocks processed - separated solid food, liquids, manures and crops. However, food and drink waste continues to be the largest proportion of the material processed - with separated solid food accounting for 38% of the feedstocks reported in the survey and liquids 30%.
Food manufacturers and processors provide the biggest proportion of the feedstock, however the volume of material sourced from local authority collections, has increased by more than a third**.
Over a million tonnes of digestate (the product of AD) was applied to agricultural land in 2013 – that’s 98% of total digestate use – demonstrating the benefits of readily available nutrients as well as potentially reducing the reliance on inorganic fertilisers.
Ian Wardle, Head of Organics and Energy at WRAP, said: “It’s fantastic to see such positive results from this survey. The industry is turning a wide variety of wastes into valuable renewable energy and digestate that can be used by farmers as a fertiliser.
“Each year we are seeing the sector grow and this year’s data shows the AD industry is starting to make a marked contribution to the UK economy. Industry has always supported this survey and this year’s excellent response is testament to that.”
The report was commissioned by WRAP, working in partnership with the Renewable Energy Association’s Organics Recycling Group (REAORG), Anaerobic Digestion and Bioresources Association (ADBA), and the Environmental Services Association (ESA). It is widely recognised as the most definitive picture of the organics recycling industry.
The full ASORI report - A survey of the UK Anaerobic Digestion Industry in 2013 - can be found here
Notes to editors
*The Scottish report - A Survey of the Organics Reprocessing Industry in Scotland 2013 - was managed and delivered by WRAP on behalf of the Scottish Government having been initiated in 2013/14. The survey of Scottish AD sites was part of the UK ASORI project, however the Scottish Government also funded a survey of the composting sector.
**Of the feedstock for which sources were stated, it increased by around 35% from 170,000t to 230,000t.
  1. ASORI – Annual survey of the UK organics recycling industry.
  2. WRAP’s vision is a world without waste, where resources are used sustainably. Working in partnership to help businesses, individuals and communities improve resource efficiency.
  3. Established as a not-for-profit company in 2000
  4. More information on all of WRAP's programmes can be found on

Recent UK Anaerobic Digestion Developments and Future Projections
"The growth of anaerobic digestion in the UK has not met Defra’s strategy target of 2011, when 1,000 new digesters were to be built by 2015. In fact less than half that figure was achieved, nevertheless the industry has been growing rapidly in real terms in the UK. Considering, the difficult economic circumstances, and reticence […] The post Recent UK Anaerobic Digestion Developments and Future Projections appeared first on Rinobs Renewables. "

Anaerobic digestion steps on the gas - Energy and Environmental Management (EAEM) Magazine

"Energy and Environmental Management (EAEM) Magazine. Commissioning of the UK's 400th anaerobic digestion (AD) plant by food waste management company Biogen in South Wales marks a milestone for the industry, in a year which has seen 102 new plants open. The announcement was made at the UK AD ...AD feedstock guidelines get industry backingMaterials Recycling World500% jump in volume of recycled UK food wasteEat Out Magazineall 3 news articles »"


A massive 50% rise in Anaerobic digestion plant numbers (and UK capacity in use) to 117, was recorded in 2013 (the latest year for which data is available).

But, the achievement has been played down by the UK government. We think that the reason for that is, that a target of 1,000 biogas plants was set for 2015, but even now (mid-2015), only 400 have been commissioned, with the knock-on effect that by the end of 2015 there will still be less than half of those 1,000 plants, operating in the country.

The UK/ European biogas industry has been, and still is, growing rapidly and the momentum is growing. We would like to point out that this growth is being achieved, by project promoters, despite uncertainties caused by changes which have been made to the subsidies on offer by the UK government.

More reading: BioCycle Magazine has an article about AD Capacity Expansion here.