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Biogas Technology in Europe

In Europe and USA anaerobic digestion was seen as being mainly used for processing sewage. Traditionally the gas generated was used in static engines to power processes on the sewage plant site and even for powering vehicles. In 1990, government schemes in the UK encouraged the generation of electricity from sewage and landfill sites.

More recent interest by the Green Movement in mainland Europe has encouraged the development of plants to process wastes more directly.

The introduction of financially attractive electricity feed-in tariffs in Germany in 2000 has encouraged the development of large tank digesters to process agricultural wastes and energy crops such as forage maize. The tariffs tended to emphasize the use of energy crops in Germany, a policy that suddenly became less attractive when crop prices increased in 2007. Plants using agricultural and domestic wastes were seen as better investments in Denmark and Sweden. Some of these plants provide gas to power public transport.

The first biogas plant in the UK was supplied by Farmatic Biotech Energy at Holsworthy in 1998, but had problems. The plant is now run by Andigestion Ltd to process organic commercial wastes.

Greenfinch Ltd developed a pilot commercial plant in Ludlow in early 2006, now owned by Biogen who have several large-scale anaerobic digesters for processing food wastes in the UK. More plants are now being built by various groups including Biogen, both for farms and to process food wastes.  

Advanced Anaerobics Ltd is now building farm-scale plants to process animal dung in the UK that are economic to run.

Holsworthy1 Holsworthy2

View of Holsworthy biogas plant

Main tanks at Holsworthy

Greenfinch project in Ludlow

Photo by Michael Chesshire