14 December 2021 – AstraZeneca is partnering with clean energy company Future Biogas to build a new renewable energy plant to generate biomethane as a substitute for natural gas to provide a renewable source of heat and power for AstraZeneca’s UK sites in Macclesfield, Cambridge, Speke, and Luton.
This initiative will provide additional renewable gas to the UK gas grid. Transitioning to 100% renewable energy for heat and power is core to AstraZeneca’s Ambition Zero Carbon commitment to be zero carbon across its operations by the end of 2025 and carbon negative by 2030.
Under the agreement, Future Biogas will build a new biomethane plant in East Anglia, adding renewable energy capacity to existing UK infrastructure. Heat and power are critical to the manufacture of medicines and therefore decarbonising the healthcare supply chain depends on access to clean sources of heat.
Alongside clean heat and power, to achieve its net zero goal, AstraZeneca will transition to 100% electric vehicles, 100% renewable electricity and launch next-generation respiratory inhalers.
Juliette White, Vice President Global SHE & Operations Sustainability, at AstraZeneca, said: “At AstraZeneca, we are committed to operating in a responsible way that recognises the interconnection between the needs of patients, society and the limitations of our planet. We’re proud to be working in partnership with innovative organisations like Future Biogas to enable the sustainable discovery, development and manufacture of medicines and vaccines. Through such collaborations, we’re making progress on our ambition to become carbon zero across our operations by end of 2025 and carbon negative across our value chain by 2030.”
The new Future Biogas plant will have the capacity to provide up to 125 Gigawatt hours of biomethane, equivalent to the energy demand to heat over 9,000 homes[i]. Construction will begin in 2023. Crucially, the way this programme has been developed ensures that there is no double counting on the reduction of emissions.
This new plant will utilise crops grown locally to the site, supporting the rural economy. Feedstock crops are integrated into farm rotations and are grown on farmland that already forms part of agricultural systems. Adding feedstocks grown for anaerobic digestion into the rotation offers farmers diverse cropping opportunities which enhances the sustainability of the farming sector and supports the circular economy in the UK. Crops will be grown with regenerative agriculture practices, promoting nutrient cycling through wider cropping rotations, minimising soil disturbance to limit carbon release from soils, and helping to build soil organic matter and soil health.
Philipp Lukas, CEO of Future Biogas commented: “Future Biogas is delighted to be working with AstraZeneca on this ground-breaking green energy solution. AstraZeneca set themselves a very ambitious and challenging net zero target which sets a benchmark for their sector as well as global corporates more widely. We are proud to be able to help on this journey.”
Through the partnership with Future Biogas, AstraZeneca will access high quality bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS) through the Northern Lights partnership in Norway, a joint venture supported by the Norwegian Government. Carbon dioxide generated through the Future Biogas plant will be captured and transported to the Northern Lights storage facility, where it will be permanently sequestered 2.6km under the seabed. As a result, biomethane production has the potential to be not just net zero but net negative.
Future Biogas is one of the UK’s largest biogas producers which currently operates 10 biogas plants.
Biogas and biomethane[ii]
Biogas is produced by the fermentation of organic matter in anaerobic digestion tanks. Biomethane is biogas from which the by-product carbon dioxide has been removed, giving the biomethane the same properties as natural gas, and enabling it to be injected into the national gas grid. In Future Biogas’ plants the feedstocks will have a zero or negative carbon footprint meaning the biomethane is a 100% renewable energy, allowing a significant reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.
Energy crops grown for Future Biogas absorb carbon dioxide (CO2) from atmosphere during their growth. Once harvested and stored, the energy crops are fed into anaerobic digestion tanks where bacteria break down the organic matter in the absence of oxygen, releasing biogas. The residue is an organic fertiliser (digestate) which in conjunction with changes to the farming rotation helps accelerate soil carbon capture.
Bioenergy with Carbon Capture and Storage (BECCS)[iii]
Bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS) is a carbon removal technique providing a removal of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Biomass (organic material) is converted into heat, electricity, or liquid or gas fuels, and the carbon dioxide emissions from this bioenergy conversion are captured and stored in geological formations or embedded in long-lasting products. It does not utilise the injected CO2 for enhanced oil recovery.
About Future Biogas
Future Biogas is at the forefront of the anaerobic digestion industry. The company is a highly experienced developer and operator of AD plants across the UK, and able to provide full service capabilities of development, construction, operations, ongoing compliance and asset management, both to owned projects and to those of third parties. Future Biogas plants convert a wide range of feedstocks into clean, renewable energy, through a process of anaerobic digestion, which produces biogas. Biogas can either be used to generate green electricity or upgraded into biomethane and injected into the UK’s national gas network.
For more information, please visit https://www.futurebiogas.com.*
About Northern Lights
Northern Lights is developing an open and flexible infrastructure to transport CO2 from industrial emitters by ship to a receiving terminal in western Norway for intermediate storage, before being transported by pipeline for permanent storage in a geological reservoir 2,600 metres under the seabed. Operations are scheduled to start in 2024. The facilities are under construction and will enable Northern Lights to offer a safe and reliable shipping and storage service to industrial emitters from across Europe. With increased interest from industrial sectors in Europe, additional shipping and storage capacity will be developed as demand grows.
For more information, please visit https://northernlightsccs.com/.*
AstraZeneca is a global, science-led biopharmaceutical company that focuses on the discovery, development, and commercialisation of prescription medicines in Oncology, Rare Diseases, and BioPharmaceuticals, including Cardiovascular, Renal & Metabolism, and Respiratory & Immunology. AstraZeneca operates in over 100 countries and its innovative medicines are used by millions of patients worldwide.
AstraZeneca is based in six different locations across the UK, with its global headquarters in Cambridge. In the UK, almost 8,000 employees work in research and development, manufacturing, supply, sales and marketing. We supply 34 different medicines to the NHS, which treat more than one million UK patients every year.
For more information, please visit www.astrazeneca.co.uk and follow us on Twitter @AstraZenecaUK.
[i] Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy. Regional and local authority gas consumption statistics Consumption figures from BEIS sub-national consumption statistics. Online: https://www.gov.uk/government/statistical-data-sets/gas-sales-and-numbers-of-customers-by-region-and-local-authority. [Last accessed: 10 December 2021].
[ii] IEA (March, 2020) An introduction to biogas and biomethane. Online: https://www.iea.org/reports/outlook-for-biogas-and-biomethane-prospects-for-organic-growth/an-introduction-to-biogas-and-biomethane [Last accessed: 10 December 2021]
[iii] The Institute for Carbon Removal Law and Policy (2020) Fact Sheet: BECCS, School of International Service at American University. Online: https://www.american.edu/sis/centers/carbon-removal/fact-sheet-bioenergy-with-carbon-capture-and-storage-beccs.cfm [Last accessed: 10 December 2021]
*AstraZeneca is not responsible for the content on this website.