The Potential for AD in the UK

Auty, D.1, Brownhill, T.1, Harrison, D.2, 1Entec, 2Monsal Ltd



This paper intends to provide some clarity over how much organic material is available for anaerobic digestion in the UK.  It then provides an indication of how much digester gas the available types of organic material could produce and what this means in terms of supplying renewables to the UK.

Keywords: Anaerobic Digestion, organic waste, biogas, methane, renewable energy


Ever since the National Grid paper burst onto the scene in January 2009 saying that up to 50% of the UK’s residential gas demand could be provided from organic materials, there has been a debate in the industry over how much could really be produced from anaerobic digestion.  The National Grid report derived the 50% figure from a combination of anaerobic digestion (AD) and gasification of woody materials, whereas here we will just be concentrating on the more proven route of anaerobic digestion.

Materials suitable for AD are pretty much anything that could be eaten or has been eaten.  This therefore excludes everything inorganic, anything woody or anything poisonous.  In the society we live in, the available organic materials are therefore;

  1. The organic fraction of municipal waste, which should be further divided into source separated kitchen waste and commercial food waste to avoid the paper , card and textiles that are also included in this fraction.
  2. Commercial and Industrial (C&I) waste, which is primarily waste food from manufacturers and retailers.
  3. Agricultural waste, which is both animal slurries and wasted crops
  4. Energy crops, which are crops specifically grown to be converted into an energy commodity.
  5. Sewage sludge

The quantities and qualities of each of these have been examined for their potential use in AD plants to produce renewable gas (biomethane, actually) suitable for grid injection.

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