This post is by Martin Bowman, senior policy and campaigns manager at Feedback.
Anaerobic digestion, or AD, the process of producing ‘biogas’ from organic matter like crops and food wastes, has been presented as the silver bullet to many of the UK’s environmental woes. It promises to do everything from producing green gas for heating and biofuels to providing greener fertiliser for our crops. A recent AD industry conference was boldly titled ‘There’s no net zero without biogas’. The industry is hungry for growth, aiming to build over 100 AD plants per year and, because AD is economically unviable without subsidies, the industry wants the government to pay out millions more to support its ambitions.
This post is by Chris Huhne, former UK energy and climate change secretary from 2010 to 2012 and current co-chair of ET Index which analyses the carbon risk of worldwide quoted companies. He advises Zilkha Biomass Energy and the Anaerobic Digestion and Bioresources Association.
One criticism of British energy and climate change policy over the past few years is that it has involved a ‘dash for renewables’ predicated on high oil and gas prices. That is not true. During my time as secretary of state for energy and climate change, and subsequently, we were careful to balance all three families of low carbon electricity generation: renewables, nuclear and fossil fuels, with carbon capture and storage. The reason? We could not predict the future, and did not know which would turn out the cheapest (or, indeed, what the oil and gas price would be). In a time of great uncertainty, energy policy should be akin to investing in a portfolio of shares for retirement: however good one share looks now, do not put all your eggs in one basket. Read more
‘On time and on budget’ are five words any project promoter loves to be able to boast, especially for a first project. One year and five months after the Green Investment Bank (GIB) was set up, its first project has managed this feat, despite being full of potential risks which might have been enough to scare off ordinary investors: the TEG Biogas plant in Dagenham will process 50,000 tonnes per annum of biodegradable waste which would otherwise have increased methane emissions from landfill, and will sell its residual heat to Closed Loop London, a factory that recycles plastic bottles. Read more