Carter Jonas
Carter Jonas

Energy Conference Report

Ed Bailey, Carter Jonas’ Energy Team Contact for the Western Region, gave a presentation on Anaerobic Digestion opportunities in Wales at the conference on Developing Welsh Biogas 2009 in Cardiff. With the Government determined to reduce carbon emissions and increase the reliance on renewable sources of energy, he highlighted the role Anaerobic Digestion could have in meeting the UK’s renewable energy contribution.

Ed’s presentation followed Jane Davidson, the Minister for Environment Sustainability and Housing’s address and Question and Answer session. He spoke about opportunities for Welsh farmers to derive value from slurry or low value forage crops to secure an alternative source of income through the production of ‘green’ electricity.

Grass Silage as an input component
The typical biogas yield potential of grass silage medium quality compared to Maize silage of similar quality and yet widely regarded as being the most suitable crop is 142 cubic meters of biogas generated per tonne of raw material compared to 129 cubic meters for Maize. The Welsh climate means that grass grows particularly well at less cost and has the added advantage of being a better understood energy crop making that transition easier for Welsh farmers.

Government support

The programme has been initiated by WAG’s MAP (Materials Action Programme) and will be delivered and managed on behalf of Welsh Assembly Government by WRAP (Waste & Resources Action Programme). The aim of the programme is to encourage the development of more Anaerobic Digestion (AD) facilities in Wales in order to provide a step change to significantly increase the amount of Biodegradable Waste that is diverted from landfill – in particular from commercial and industrial sources such as food and drink manufacture and catering.
■ Double Renewable Obligation Certificate Availability targeted to encourage AD
■ Forthcoming Feed in Tariff (FiT’s) which commences in April 2010 and the Renewable Heat Incentive which is due in 2011
■ Enhanced Capital Allowances

Smaller AD Plant

This is this important because 1MW is increasingly becoming a measurement currency by which AD is compared to other renewable energy technologies such as Wind. A 1MW plant may require typical inputs that are only akin to the larger dairy or pig farm units. In England the average farm size is around 50 hectares, however for Wales and Northern Ireland, sizes are smaller at around 40 hectares. Smaller AD plant may therefore better compliment the average farm size in Wales.

Investment in slurry storage
Slurry stores constructed post 1991 will require at least 4 months storage otherwise units may find themselves in breach of section 4 of the Control of Pollution (Silage, Slurry and Agricultural Fuel Oil) Regulations 1991.There may be considerable cost savings by virtue of the digester vessels providing the storage requirements of cattle slurry.

He summarised, by providing an example of where Anaerobic Digestion could be made possible by listing the number and locations of redundant airfield strips and concluded by referring to such sites as having the following benefits:

1 They are usually located within close proximity to settlements which once relied on airfield sites as being an important source of employment. Such settlements have energy demands and the development of AD plant on such sites could provide both local employment and energy to meet these demands.

2 The topography of redundant airfield sites makes them best placed for utilising energy crops and facilitating vehicular access.

3 The quasi-industrial nature of airfield sites is likely to mean that sufficient grid connection may once again be made possible and there may also be a useful planning precedent set by virtue of the planning history.

Edmund BaileyMRICS


Edmund is a Consultant, based in Bangor and is one of the Western Representatives of the Carter Jonas Energy Team. He advises a number of private, corporate and institutional clients upon a range of e...

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