At the end of a challenging year for the British biogas industry there is still cause for optimism about deployment of industrial bio-energy. Britain’s food and drink companies are responding to EU and national policy that puts greater emphasis on decentralised clean energy and the transition to low-carbon manufacturing, where generating bio-energy on factory sites will have an increased role to play.
Our Government’s lukewarm support for renewable energy has disrupted the incentive regime and undermined growth of the biogas sector, with many projects on hold. However, Lord Deben – Chairman of the Committee on Climate Change Commission, and my former boss – this month described Anaerobic Digestion as an important contributor in the battle against climate change, praising the technology as “an increasingly efficient way of completing the system by taking what cannot be re-used or directly recycled and giving it real value”, as clean energy.
This endorsement from one of our leading environmental politicians should be noted by officials and Ministers, whose ambitions for a post-Brexit industrial future should include promoting clean growth as well as process innovation. Whitehall’s policy wonks can also learn from the more creative approach to decentralised energy generation in Scotland, with cross-party backing. Our industrial strategy must include support for British business, in particular SMEs which are the engines of economic growth, to invest in bio-energy and a low-carbon future.
The AD industry can do more to promote the benefits of a low-carbon economy and challenge our politicians to deliver the policy framework we need. Clearfleau is trying to do this while also helping companies to fuel their factories from process residues that they are throwing away.
As 2017 comes to an end, our team has started work on the first of three projects that will be built during 2018 at distilleries in Scotland. The 200-year-old Balmenach distillery in rural Speyside has already installed a biomass boiler, and when biogas starts to flow later in 2018 it will become one of Scotland’s lowest carbon footprint distilleries.
This project shows that lower carbon manufacturing is possible regardless of the size, location or output of the production site. With both biogas and biomass plants, Balmenach will be one of the greenest distilleries in Scotland. News of this exciting project was widely covered in the Scottish business press, plus the food & drink manufacturing press and energy media.