Anaerobic Digestion (AD) Market

Global Industry Analysis (2017 – 2020) – Growth Trends and Market Forecast (2021 – 2025)


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Growing Demand for Biogas through Anaerobic Digester Route

Anaerobic digestion (AD) is used extensively around the world to manage waste streams. Commercially available anaerobic digester systems are designed for one type of feedstock or multiple feedstocks. The biogas that is generated is primarily made of methane, a key component of natural gas. Small-scale digesters produce biogas from livestock waste, providing fuel and electricity to rural farming communities. Large-scale AD systems are used in industrial farms and by communities to co-digest other sources of organic wastes.

Favourable government policies and incentives are crucial in determining the demand for biogas and the viability and scale of AD projects. Many governments are turning to anaerobic digestion systems as a mean to achieve GHG reductions in the agriculture sector, apart from producing renewable energy and improving nutrient management practices. Advancements in digester design, along with supportive regulations and incentives continue to make AD a more feasible and practical solution for small and large-scale waste management and environmental challenges.

Countries that have made the most progress with anaerobic digestion have instituted policies that recognise biogas as an asset, making energy derived from anaerobic digestion economically competitive with fossil fuel energy. Feed-in low tariffs, tax relief, grant schemes and requirements for organic waste disposal that ensure no incinerated or landfill dumps are the main measures that have been adopted.

Key restraints include high capital and O&M costs. The main areas where improvements can be achieved is in the automation of plants, the understanding of the biological processes involved and increasing the efficiency of the existing CHP engines. Another challenge for the future development of the AD industry is to increase awareness of the existence of methane emissions and the value of the lost fuel, especially in countries such as China, India and Russia, which have rapidly growing energy and waste sectors. Another potential barrier is inconsistent, complicated or poorly devised standards for connecting biogas-generated power to the grid in various countries.

Complete Mix and Flow Plug Digesters to Lead the Market by Installed Capacity

The global anaerobic digestion market is dominated by a complete mix and flow plug digesters. Together, they constituted more than 70% of the global anaerobic digestion market in 2019.

All anaerobic digestion systems adhere to the same basic principles whether the feedstock is food waste, animal manures or wastewater sludge. Although the process is the same, designs will vary from digester to digester. A complete-mix digester is designed to maximize biogas production as an energy source. The concept behind a plug flow digester is the same as a complete mix digester – manure flowing into the digester displaces digester volume, and an equal amount of material flows out. However, the contents of a plug flow digester manure are thick enough to keep particles from settling to the bottom. Very little mixing occurs, so manure moves through the digester as a plug – hence the name “plug flow.” Plug flow digesters do not require mechanical mixing.

Europe Constitutes Mammoth Share with Advanced Digestors

Currently, Europe dominates the anaerobic digestion market. Europe has installed capacity of over 12 GW of anaerobic digesters. Germany biogas production now contributes about 50% of the production in Europe. North America follows with more than 2 GW of installed capacity of anaerobic digestion. In North America, the U.S. saw the addition of 51 megawatts (MW) of biomass projects and 32 MW of biogas projects in 2018.

Geographically, Asia Pacific has the highest number of anaerobic digester plants, though most are small scale, with more than 6 million digesters in China and India alone. Countries in Europe have the most advanced anaerobic digesters with many AD systems serving more than one livestock operator. The anaerobic digestion process is also rapidly gaining popularity in Africa and biogas recovery is emerging in other regions of the world. Also, growing demand for small scale/micro-scale anaerobic digestion plants is expected to benefit the overall demand during the forecast period.

Global Anaerobic Digestion (AD) Market: Competitive Landscape 

Key players involved in anaerobic digestion market include Veolia, WELTEC BIOPOWER, Anaergia GmbH, AEV Energy GmbH, Herhof GmbH, WATERLEAU, Harvest Power, HOST, Voith GmbH, Siemens AG, 2G Energietechnik GmbH, Clearfleau Group Limited, etc.

In June 2019, the government of U.K. challenged all the food and beverage sector to reduce carbon emissions. This challenge has been accepted by Clearfleau Group Limited, being one of the leaders in food and beverage residues processing unit and will be using and processing the discarded residues to provide renewable energy and fuel for food distribution.

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