Biomethane has big potential says award winner

Biomethane can provide over one sixth of all UK residential heat by 2020 and vehicle fuel.

Rapid development of Biomethane to Grid is necessary and for carbon offsetting, biomethane vehicle fuel presents the best of all potential biogas uses. It can meet the required increase in renewable electricity, heat and fuel production to achieve the 15 percent renewable energy target set by the European Union for 2020.

However, UK regulatory and financial barriers need to be overcome and the UK can learn from substantial progress made in Sweden, Germany and Denmark.

So says the winner of the 2010 CIWM Geotech Bursary, Russell Harwood, in his paper presented at the CIWM Professional Awards in October 2010.

The award is open to all and offers a £1500 bursary to the winner with the best proposal for a paper entitled: The Future Roles of Landfill Gas and Biogas. Entry deadline: 1st March 2011, details from:

Harwood considers that landfill gas combustion using spark ignition engines will continue to play a key role in the renewable energy mix up to 2020. In the future, he suggests, microturbines can succeed spark ignition engines, at landfills with low methane gas concentrations, to extend gas extraction lifetime.

According to Harwood, generating hydrogen from landfill gas and biogas for direct use in fuel cells is still commercially undeveloped. However he says it is expected to become more commercially viable within the next decade.

Harwood's research adopted an holistic approach to review the current and future trends in the production and utilisation of landfill gas and biogas. He placed particular emphasis on developing innovative technologies, their progress in selected European nations and the incentives and barriers to their adoption in the UK.

Russell Harwood observed that waste management legislation and policy of the 21st Century seek sustainable resource recovery. Essential to this is increasing anaerobic digestion infrastructure to produce biogas and improving landfill gas extraction efficiency to meet energy targets and sustainability goals of 2020.

The Renewable Energy Strategy 2009 states that bioenergy including landfill gas and biogas could contribute up to 22 percent of this target as well as biogas contributing to the 12 percent renewable heat requirement. There is a need to decarbonise the transport sector and biofuel consumption needs to increase to 5 percent by 2014.

He cites examples in other EU countries, especially Sweden, where progress with biomethane in transport is well ahead of UK. See more and view full paper at:

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