Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Anaerobic Digestion Quality Protocol nears Completion

AnDigestion Ltd, which currently requires 60-70 separate consents for digestate from its AD plant in Devon, has welcomed the Protocol.

A major regulatory barrier to the development of anaerobic digestion (AD) plants in the UK is close to being overcome, with work to develop a "quality protocol" for the process now nearing completion, writes James Cartledge.

The Protocol will allow companies generating energy through the AD process to deal with the residues from the process more easily - opening the door to potentially hundreds or even thousands of new schemes in the UK.

Anaerobic digestion generates energy from organic waste materials including household or commercial food waste, as well as agricultural wastes and slurry. The technology involves huge tanks in which the organic material is broken down by bacteria, which generate energy-rich "biogas", which is mainly methane.

But while the solid residues from the process is a useful nitrogen-rich fertiliser, farmers seeking to use it on their fields are currently hindered by its legal classification as a "waste".

The new Quality Protocol will mean that if the digestate material is produced to a certain standard - known as PAS 110 and also nearing completion - the fertiliser will not be classed as a waste in the eyes of the law.

Yesterday saw the developers of the Protocol, the government's Waste and Resources Action Programme, granting the UCAS-accredited scheme independence by formally handing over its operation to the Renewable Energy Association.

At the REA's Bioenergy 2008 event in Birmingham, the Association announced formation of a new oversight panel for the AD Quality Protocol, chaired by Defra policy advisor Roger Unwin. The REA is now inviting representatives of different industry sectors interested in anaerobic digestion to come forward to become members of the Protocol oversight panel.

Mr Unwin said yesterday: "I have been asked to announce that there will be an REA biogas certification scheme, it will be working with this Quality Protocol to a PAS 110 standard, which should shortly be available."

The final form of the Protocol is awaiting only the sign-off from the Environment Agency, which polices waste regulations including governing the spreading of organic waste-derived fertilisers on land. More...

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