Biomethane capacity quadruples in 2014

The amount of biomethane injected to the UK grid has doubled every year since 2011 and is set to more-than quadruple in 2014.

That’s according to data collected by the Anaerobic Digestion and Bioresources Association (ADBA) from the UK’s four Gas Distribution Networks following a meeting at the Energy Institute.

The figures show that there are now 10 biomethane-to-grid plants generating nearly 1TWh compared with just 0.16TWh last year.

Energy Institute president Ian Marchant said: “I have long believed that biomethane could play a useful role in decarbonising the UK’s heat requirements.

“Following a visit to the Rainbarrow AD plant at Poundbury in Dorset, I realised that the biomethane industry was both making good progress and facing obstacles that needed to be addressed.

“In my capacity as president of the Energy Institute, I brought the biomethane industry together and I am pleased to see that, in fact, progress was even better than I thought with a quadrupling of output.

“Work is also proceeding on tackling technical barriers so that this sort of growth can continue in the future.”

Ultra-low carbon

ADBA chief executive Charlotte Morton added: “That this market is finally taking off is great news for Great Britain’s climate and energy security.

“Biomethane is one of the most efficient forms of domestic renewable energy which, at a time when we are expected to import 69% of our gas supply from some of the most volatile parts of the world, could replace over 10% of the UK’s domestic gas needs – equivalent to 40TWh – while helping to fight climate change.

“As an ultra-low carbon storable, dispatchable, flexible renewable gas, biomethane can continue to heat our homes and power our vehicles even when the sun isn’t shining and the wind isn’t blowing.

“That two thirds of the industry’s potential is generated from human poo, food and farm wastes demonstrates just how valuable these resources are – and why we need separate food waste collections.”

In September, biomethane industry executives urged the Government to boost the supply of the renewable natural gas, noting that the market and demand for biomethane has grown and now vastly outstrips supply.

Earlier this month, the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) published further details on the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI), detailing how biomethane plants claiming support under the scheme must demonstrate a minimum 60% saving in greenhouse gas emissions.

DECC has released its latest figures which show that biomethane RHI tariffs will degress for the first time on 1 January 2015. However, tariffs are currently being reviewed and DECC is expected to make an announcement on new levels shortly.

Degression will not apply to the tariffs received by plants which have already been accredited.

ADBA chief executive Charlotte Morton said: “The RHI biomethane degression announced today reflects the surge in deployment we have seen in late 2014 – the biomethane market is finally taking off.

“With the tariffs currently under review, it is important that DECC gives developers certainty on their proposals as soon as possible. Given the large amount of work which has gone in to setting the tariffs on the basis of clear, strong evidence, this should take precedence over the degression mechanism.”

Lois Vallely

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