Anaerobic Digestion (AD) is a natural process in which microorganisms break down organic matter, in the absence of oxygen, into biogas (a mixture of carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane) and digestate (a nitrogen-rich fertiliser). The biogas can be used directly in engines for Combined Heat and Power (CHP), burned to produce heat, or can be cleaned and used in the same way as natural gas or as a vehicle fuel. The digestate can be used as a renewable fertiliser or soil conditioner.
Why are we interested in Anaerobic Digestion
AD can play an important role as a means of dealing with organic waste and avoiding, by more efficient capture and treatment, the greenhouse gas emissions that are associated with its disposal to landfill. It also offers other benefits, such as recovering energy and producing valuable biofertilisers. The biogas can be used to generate heat and electricity, converted into biofuels or cleaned and injected into the gas grid.
What we are doing
The Government made a commitment to work towards a ‘zero waste’ economy in the Coalition Programme for Government of 20 May 2010, and to introduce measures to increase energy from waste through anaerobic digestion. This was incorporated into Defra’s Business plan.
We have now published our Anaerobic Digestion Strategy and Action Plan. The Strategy sets out a vision for AD, whilst the Action Plan sets out the actions in detail that are needed to bring about an increase in energy from waste through anaerobic digestion.
- Anaerobic Digestion Strategy and Action Plan
- Anaerobic Digestion Research Gap Analysis (PDF 1.1MB)
- Detailed Actions (PDF 120KB)
The AD Strategy and Action Plan has been worked up in partnership between Government and Industry. Within the document a number of barriers have been identified and appropriate actions to overcome those hurdles, for example guidance on the cost and benefits of AD to developers and local authorities, evidence on the value of digestates, developing skills and training for AD operators, and highlighting ‘best practice’ projects that deliver community benefits.
Government and Industry will continue to work together to implement the agreed actions identified in the AD Strategy and Action Plan.
The Strategy and Action Plan follows the Anaerobic Digestion Framework Document (published in November 2010) which aimed to set out the steps necessary to increase energy from waste through anaerobic digestion. Since then, we have been working closely with industry to identify barriers to the development of AD and the actions that are needed to overcome them.
- Anaerobic Digestion Framework Document (PDF 60KB)