Biomethane supply ‘needs urgent Government intervention’

Biomethane industry executives have called for urgent Government intervention to boost supply of the renewable natural gas, which can be used by businesses as a transport fuel.

Speakers at last week’s UK Biomethane & Gas Vehicle conference noted that the market and demand for biomethane has grown exponentially, and now vastly outstrips supply.

“Party manifestos need to address this concern and not just through targeted incentives which support biomethane production, but also through a ban on food waste to landfill, the proper facilitation of separate waste collections and bioenergy sustainability criteria that recognise all the benefits of anaerobic digestion,” said Anaerobic Digestion and Biogas Association (ABDA) chief executive Charlotte Morton.

Sainsbury’s sustainability manager Mark Fletcher said his company was seeking to become the ‘greenest grocery’, and improvements in the provision of biomethane were essential to that goal.

“We currently have a dual-fuel fleet of 109 vehicles -10% of our entire fleet – but we want to expand this to 250 dual-fuel vehicles. Improvements in the gas refuelling infrastructure and technological advances will help us do that, but there is also a real need to secure more biomethane supplies.”

Sainsbury’s efforts have been echoed by fellow retailer Marks & Spencer, which recently agreed a landmark deal with a major biogas plant operator for the purchase of biomethane certificates which will reduce the retailer’s carbon footprint by more than 6,400 tonnes.

Biomethane benefits

The Biomethane & Gas Vehicle conference also presented new figures on the potential benefits of biomethane over diesel in transportation: –

  • 80 – 90% reduction in nitrogen oxides
  • 95% reduction in particulate emissions
  • 20 – 30% reduction in carbon dioxide levels
  • 78 pence per litre equivalent costs;
  • A payback period of 12-24 months.

Conference chair and managing director of Low Emission Strategies Andrew Whittles also reported that recent evidence from Public Health England suggests that diesel fumes are responsible for the early death of one in 20 of the UK population. By contrast, biomethane offers about an 80% reduction in worst air pollutants.

Colin Matthews, managing director of low-carbon vehicle specialist JouleVert, added: “When it comes to commercial vehicles, biomethane provides the best environmental solution in terms of both carbon reduction and improved air quality.

“Biomethane is the most cost effective solution to fleet operators of larger vehicles.”

Brad Allen

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