Scotland’s anaerobic digestion industry – involved in the conversion of rotting food and farm waste into electricity – has grown dramatically in the last year, new figures show.
27 anaerobic digestion projects are currently operational in Scotland, up nearly 70% from just 16 last year, while a further 43 have planning approval. With a dozen more plants waiting for permission to be granted, the sector could grow by more than 200% in the next two years, the Anaerobic Digestion and Bioresources Association (ADBA) said.
Anaerobic digestion involves farm slurry, vegetable peelings, paper and other organic material decomposing inside a closed chamber to produce gas, which is then used to generate electricity. The amount of food thrown away in Scotland each year has fallen by 8% since 2009, while less than half of Scotland’s household waste was sent to landfill in 2014 – the first time that figure has ever fallen below 50%, and a sign that technology like anaerobic digestion can help to reduce demand on landfill space.
Stephanie Clark, policy manager for Scottish Renewables, said: “These new ADBA figures show that anaerobic digestion is being taken extremely seriously by Scottish businesses.
“Increasingly, waste has value. The AD process recognises that, and turns things we don’t want, like food waste and farmyard slurry, into something we desperately need – clean, affordable electricity.”
ADBA chief executive Charlotte Morton added: “Scotland is leading the way in demonstrating how anaerobic digestion extracts value from our waste, while supporting farming resilience, reducing billions in carbon abatement costs, improving food security and production and generating employment and investment opportunities for rural economies.
“We are particularly excited to see AD plants working in partnership with local authorities to collect residents’ food waste and to distribute in its place heat and electricity for local homes.
“Developments in Scotland are now being used to showcase the excellent return on investment that bill payers gain from the continued deployment of AD capacity. With a commitment from government to support the technology to scale – a commitment which currently does not exist – AD can deliver baseload energy that is cheaper than new nuclear by the time Hinkley Point C is built, and that can help decarbonise UK heat, farming and transport.”
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