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The optimisation and impacts of expanding biogas production - AC0406

Description
Bio-resources, such as food wastes and the 45m tonnes of livestock manure have a high water content cannot be incinerated, but can produce biogas, heat and a resulting digestate that has value to agriculture. Anaerobic digestion (AD) is the process that digests organic material to produce biogas (60-80% methane) and a digestate. There are several environmental benefits associated with AD, these include production of green energy, reduced green house gases to the atmosphere and a digestate that can substitute artificial fertilisers that require fossil fuel for production. The use of biogas from readily available bio-resources from agriculture and food sources can provide environmental and social benefits to the rural community. In mainland Europe biogas production has been successful, for example in Germany there is a thriving AD sector, with over 3000 biogas plants (compared to about 30 in the UK) producing 500 MW of electricity (and a 1000MW of heat) and a strategic plan for further major expansion. It is estimated that over 430,000 new jobs could be created in the EU by introducing 300,000 biogas plants (Amon 2004). There is, however, a need to encourage the use of more efficient designs of plant, particularly in the on-farm units. AD systems can be made available with more advanced technologies, currently neither the single or 2 stage AD are not automated or optimised for biogas production. However in the UK biogas production needs to be made more efficient for realistic financial returns to encourage the implementation of new biogas plants.

To encourage the use and improvement of biogas production in the UK we need to address the following project objectives;
• Assess the current status of biogas technology in the UK and Europe and how to implement more automated biogas production in the UK
• Determine the unit capital cost of a biogas plant by scaling up equipment delivery and deployment.
•Evaluate the potential for recycling biogas digestate for use as a fertiliser in terms of nitrogen utilisation and losses of nitrogen and phosphorus as pollutants to air and water.
• Assess the potential of integrating AD into UK agricultural systems to improve the nutrient economy at the farm scale and upwards.
• Assess the economic and environmental value resulting from optimisation of biogas production, including an assessment of `spin-off` benefits to nutrient cycling.
• Feasibility of centralised anaerobic digestion plants
• Build on recent Defra, research and mitigation `cost-curve` research to deliver a full environmental economic analysis of the costs and benefits of biogas production which includes investigation of incentives for biogas production via policy packages and financing mechanisms, promoting industry take up, and consumer acceptance.
Objective
This Defra funded project aims to match fund the EU Biogas project (code) but specifically addresses the following objectives which will result in synthesis of information required to assess the development of a sustainable biogas industry in the UK.

1. Assess the current status of biogas technology in the UK and Europe and how to implement more automated biogas production in the UK.

2. Identify the factors that determine the unit capital cost of biogas plants and determine how to reduce capital costs through the scaling up of equipment delivery and deployment.

3. Evaluate the potential for recycling biogas digestate for use as a fertiliser in terms of nitrogen utilisation and losses of nitrogen and phosphorus as pollutants to air and water.

4. Assess the potential of integrating AD into UK agricultural systems to improve the nutrient economy at the farm scale and upwards.

5. Assess the economic and environmental value resulting from optimisation of biogas production, including an assessment of 'spin-off' benefits to nutrient cycling.

6. Provide a detailed analysis of the feasibility of using centralised anaerobic digestion plants in the food chain to deliver multiple benefits using the dairy processing sector as an example.

7. Drawing on EU funded R&D, build on recent Defra analysis, research and mitigation 'cost-curve' research to deliver a full environmental economic analysis of the costs and benefits of biogas production which includes investigation of incentives for biogas production via policy packages and financing mechanisms, promoting industry take up, and understanding social impacts and consumer acceptance.
Project Documents
• First Deliverable : The optimisation and impacts of expanding biogas production   (649k)
• Other : European Biogas Initiative to improve the yield of agricultural   (1142k)
Time-Scale and Cost
From: 2006

To: 2010

Cost: £306,759
Contractor / Funded Organisations
Institute of Grassland and Environment Research (IGER)
Keywords
Agricultural Waste              
Bioenergy              
Biomass Crops              
Biowaste              
Cattle              
Dairy              
Energy              
Engineering              
Farming              
Livestock Farming              
Sustainable Production              
Fields of Study
Agriculture and Climate Change