New figures show Scotland’s AD industry has mushroomed

Anaerobic digestion (AD) has grown in Scotland by more than two thirds in a year, according to new research.

The figures from the Anaerobic Digestion and Bioresources Association (ADBA) show Twenty seven AD projects are up and running in Scotland, up 69% (from 16) in 12 months ago, while a further 43 have planning approval.

With a dozen more plants waiting for permission to go ahead, the sector could grow by more than 200% in the next two years,

The amount of food thrown away in Scotland each year has fallen by 8% since 2009, while less than half of Scotland’s household waste was sent to landfill in 2014 – the first time that figure has ever dipped below the 50 per cent mark, and a sign that technology like AD can help reduce demand on landfill space.

“These new ADBA figures show that AD is being taken extremely seriously by Scottish businesses,” said Policy Manager at Scottish Renewables, Stephanie Clark.

“Increasingly, waste has value. The AD process recognises that, and turns things we don’t want, like food waste and farmyard slurry, into something we desperately need – clean, affordable electricity.”

Charlotte Morton, Chief Executive of ADBA, added: “We are particularly excited to see AD plants working in partnership with local authorities to collect residents’ food waste and to distribute in its place heat and electricity for local homes. 

“Developments in Scotland are now being used to showcase the excellent return on investment that bill payers gain from the continued deployment of AD capacity. With a commitment from government to support the technology to scale – a commitment which currently does not exist – AD can deliver baseload energy that is cheaper than new nuclear by the time Hinkley Point C is built, and that can help decarbonise UK heat, farming and transport.” 

Jamie Hailstone is a freelance journalist and author, specializing in local government, transport and energy issues