Environment Secretary Hilary Benn announced this week that five anaerobic digestion projects across the country will share £10m in grants under Defra’s Anaerobic Digestion Programme. The grants are made to help with the cost of construction and will be administered by the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP).

The grants are made as part of wider plans announced this [last] week to tackle food and packaging waste - last year the UK produced 20 million tonnes of food waste and 10.7 million tonnes of packaging waste.

Anaerobic digestion (AD) breaks down organic matter such as food waste and animal manure to produce biogas, diverting waste from landfill and producing a renewable energy source for power and in some cases heat and transport.

Defra considered that the successful applicants each demonstrated cutting edge technology, which will help highlight the benefits of AD to a wide range of industries. For example, one of the successful bidders, Biocycle South Shropshire, will use its share of the grant to improve its existing AD plant by installing a new technology which breaks down cell structures prior to digestion, increasing gas yields by up to 15%. The other successful bidders were:

  • Blackmore Vale Dairies;
  • GWE Biogas Ltd;
  • Staples Vegetables;
  • United Utilities and National Grid

Some in the industry might question why there is an apparent preference on the part of Government to fund AD projects whilst the rolling out of other technology such as gasification is held up for lack of finance.