Bioenergy – applying proven technology

AcrEnergy’s plants are constructed using proven, modern technology. We work in the bio energy sector and in recent years we have been focusing on biogas.

Biogas is gaseous fuel, predominantly methane, produced by the fermentation of organic matter, also referred to as anaerobic digestion (AD).

This gas allows for two types of energy generation:

  • burn it in an engine to generate electricity as well as heat, or
  • upgrade it to produce Biomethane or Renewable Natural Gas

making biogas a viable and proven alternative to fossil-based natural gas.

It depends on the infrastructure and local energy demand AcrEnergy can work with both types of energy generation.

The plant itself becomes self-sustainable by using a fraction of its own produced gas for its onsite power and heat demand.

Biogas System

Base load

Unlike some forms of renewable energy, biogas plants do not depend on favourable weather conditions to generate energy. Instead they operate 24/7, like a fossil-fuel based power station which compares favourably with other small scale generation such as solar and wind.

When you factor in the continuous energy supply from biogas versus the intermittency of weather-dependent forms of renewable energy, the total cost of electricity generation for biogas are on a par with solar at about £32 per MW.

The continuous supply 24 by 7 of biogas is referred to as base load. A plant has an average capacity utilization rate of min 95%, as biogas basically converts all its input to energy. In comparison solar converts maximum just under 20%, and wind about 40% of its input to energy.

Applications of biogas are typically for small scale energy generation – also referred to as Decentralised Energy Generation or Distributed Energy Resource (DER) systems. It meets the entire demand throughout the year for communities in small towns and villages. In other words DER reduces the need to reinforce the power grid.

Heat for local use

At plants where the biogas is used to generate electricity, heat is produced as a by-product. This can be piped to local customers (industry and homes) via a district heating network to supply either hot water or heating – or both.

Mature market

Across Europe well over 10,000 plants have now been operating successfully for more than ten years. Germany is by far the largest market with nearly 8,000 plants currently operational. Italy is the second largest market just shy of 2,000 plants in operation. In the UK as of 2020 just over 500 plants are now in operation.

AcrEnergy is proud to be a member of UK’s leading biogas associations Anaerobic Digestion and Bioresources Association (ADBA) and the Renewable Energy Association (REA). Please refer to them for more in-depth information on the market drivers, constituents, legislative landscape and other useful links.

Boosting the UK’s domestic gas production

We have only barely “scraped the surface” with 500MW total currently generated by biogas. Latest projection by ADBA states current capacity represents circa one fifth of the total potential available in the UK. Biogas would have the potential to meet up to 30% of electricity demand.

Alternatively, the biomethane production potential in the UK allows it to operate up to 80% of all HGV fleets in the country.

Yet another angle is the domestic sector: enough feedstock is available in the UK to significantly contribute towards its domestic gas production:

  • Agricultural feedstock with break crops and farm waste alone has the potential to power up to 1.3million homes in the UK.
  • If the UK was to process all of the food waste the biogas sector could produce 9TWh per annum – enough gas to heat half of London’s households.

Cost effective carbon abatement

Biogas production in the UK is currently mitigating about five million tonnes of carbon from agricultural, food and and human waste. Going forward biomethane – produced from AD, gas-to-power and hydrogen – can deliver 30% of the carbon saving necessary for the UK to cut emissions in line with its Carbon Budget.

ADBA has prepared an MP Briefing Document for more information on biogas in the UK. Stakeholders of biogas plants present these sheets to their local MPs throughout the country.