Localised collection rules are hampering the plans to build 40 anaerobic digestion plants, warns Tamar Energy.
The UK government has been called upon by the UK’s first large-scale anaerobic digestion developer, asking to ban food waste from landfill to help the UK meets its 2020 renewable energy targets.
The government were called upon after they unveiled its second annual progress report on its SD strategy; the strategy aims to tackle barriers to the increased uptake of AD in England.
The study shows steady growth across the industry, with the number of operational plants rising from 68 in 2011 to 110 currently, additional information explains that a further 200 plants have secured planning permission.
The first facility, a 1.5MW plant in Basingstoke, Hampshire, is due to start processing food waste in November, while a second plant in Spalding, Lincolnshire, is expected to start the following month. The company expects to be operating four plants with 8MW of capacity by the end of next year and they have another five in the pipeline.
Nine plants might seem a drop in the ocean in comparison to Germany’s network of nearly 7,000 AD plants; however, it will nevertheless make Tamar the biggest AD developer in the UK.
Following a £97m funding round last year, which was the UK’s largest clean tech capital deal of the year, Tamar is confident it has the money to build the projects. But speaking to Business Green, Alan Lovell, chairman and chief executive at the company, admitted it has been a challenge sourcing food waste to turn into energy.
The company had initially planned to take waste from the food processing sector and had hoped to build on its partnership with financial backers such as Sainsbury’s and the Duchy of Cornwall.
However, it soon became clear that supermarkets and their supply chains have become so efficient at managing their stock that they have in sufficient waste for a regular feedstock. Meanwhile, the government progress report detailed how food-producing businesses still regard separate food waste collections as unaffordable.
Tamar is therefore seeking to rely on household food waste for 20 to 25 of the 40 proposed plants, and is building plants close to areas of dense population to reduce emissions from transport.
Like most of the AD industry, Lovell argues Westminster should follow Scotland, which from 1 January 2014 will ban food waste from going to landfill and introduce separate food waste collections for all councils.
Advocates of the ban argue the move could drastically increase the number of AD plants while also providing a boost to the economy and curbing emissions. According to a recent report by think tank Green Alliance, a landfill ban on food would save councils and businesses £508m per year in avoided landfill taxes, and provide a £693m annual boost from turning waste into a resource.