REA welcomes updated anaerobic digestion quality protocol

By Renewable Energy Association | February 13, 2014

The U.K.-based Renewable Energy Association has welcomed publication of the Environment Agency’s updated Quality Protocol for digestate from anaerobic digestion (AD). Digestate is a nutrient-rich co-product of anaerobic digestion that can be used as an organic biofertilizer. The QP confirms end-of-waste status for digestate in the U.K., increasing market confidence in biofertilizer as an alternative to mineral-based fertilizers in agriculture, commercial horticulture and land restoration projects. The update rationalizes the list of AD feedstocks covered by the QP while reducing the burden for biogas and digestate producers.

Companies active in the growing biofertilizer market can download the QP for free from the Biofertilizer Certification Scheme website. The BCS, run by the REA’s subsidiary company REAL on a non-profit basis, works with testing laboratories and certification bodies to ensure that digestate from anaerobic digestion plants is safe and of a high quality for use as fertilizer. The BCS is the first and only certification scheme to date that AD producers can use to demonstrate compliance with the ADQP and achieve end-of-waste status.

REA Head of Biogas David Collins said, “One of the early successes for REA Biogas was to lobby the Environment Agency for the early introduction of the ADQP back in 2008. This made the UK the first – and to date only – country in Europe to achieve ‘end-of-waste’ for digestate.

“It is great to get the updated ADQP hot on the heels of the new Biomethane QP. The good news comes at a challenging time for the industry, as we work with DECC and partners to resolve issues with the Feed-in Tariff. Building market confidence in AD outputs, including digestate, can have a real positive impact on the economics of biogas, so this regulatory boost is timely indeed,” Collins continued.  

REAL Certification Manager Ciaran Burns said, “With the Environment Agency’s ADQP and REAL’s non-profit Biofertiliser Certification Scheme, the U.K. has the only national end-of-waste regulatory framework in Europe. Along with the forthcoming update to the PAS110 Standard, these updates will provide clarity on the regulations for digestate producers and further build confidence in the market for biofertiliser.

“This update to the ADQP makes several improvements, reducing the administration burden for producers and rationalising the list of appropriate feedstocks. This will increase the value of digestate products and boost the overall economics of anaerobic digestion as a source of renewable biogas,” Burns continued.