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10 Oct 2012 11:10:17

New edition of industry-leading cost calculator helps AD industry work out biogas costs and returns

The latest edition of the UK’s leading anaerobic digestion (AD) cost calculator has been published by Bioeconomy Consultants NNFCC; helping businesses to assess and understand the potential costs and returns of using AD as a way of generating heat and power from organic waste.

"Despite a stuttering start, the AD industry is beginning to flourish in the UK and we are working with a number of developers keen to expand their assets and find an alternative route for organic waste," said Lucy Hopwood, Head of Biomass and Biogas at NNFCC, who helped develop the AD Cost Calculator in collaboration with The Andersons Centre.

"We have worked with developers to produce the AD cost calculator, which has grown over the years to become an indispensable tool to those in the industry because it is not only comprehensive but remains easy to use," she adds.

The economics of AD remain finely balanced and it is important to be able to calculate and assess the viability of a system before investing what can be several hundred thousand pounds or even several million.

A typical farm-fed digester using waste from 250 cows and 150 hectares of maize, will have a capacity of around 275kWe and can cost upwards of £1.2 million. While a typical 2MWe waste-fed digester using 40,000 tonnes of food waste will have a capacity of 2MWe and could cost three to five times this amount.

The viability of a particular project will depend on a number of factors and is not limited to the scale of a digester, but is also dependent on what feedstocks are used, how the operator intends to use the biogas, the end use of the digestate produced and a number of other factors.

The AD Cost Calculator is an essential tool in the arsenal of any developer looking to invest in AD, providing you with detailed annual financials over the life of an anaerobic digester. NNFCC also provide expert support to help users understand and interpret the outputs of the calculator.

The new version of the calculator uses the latest incentives available for biogas combustion and biomethane injection into the grid, it also includes variable retention times, monthly cash flow reporting as well as a number of other improvements.

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