The plant, owned and operated by J V Energen, a joint venture between local farmers and the Duchy of Cornwall, will inject biomethane (renewable gas) directly into the gas grid on-site.

Biomethane is formed from the decomposition of organic matter under controlled, anaerobic conditions, which produces the gas alongside a renewable fertiliser.

According to the Anaerobic Digestion and Biogas Association (ADBA) Biomethane is extremely low carbon, and once upgraded is close to pure methane and similar to natural gas.

Commenting on the opening, ADBA’s chief executive, Charlotte Morton, said: “The UK’s first successful commercial-scale gas-to-grid plant is an exciting development, demonstrating the ability of the AD industry to deliver large volumes of green gas into the grid for use today”.

“Biomethane – one of the few sources of truly low carbon and renewable gas – is strategically important for the UK economy and energy markets, delivering on the Government’s key objectives for both energy security and economic growth”.

Morton stressed that AD has the potential to generate £2-3bn worth of green gas, equivalent to more than 10% of the UK’s domestic gas demand, and support 35,000 jobs.

“Capable of scaling up fast and cheaply, it can fill a significant part of the gap left when our existing energy sources are taken offline in a few years’ time, helping to keep the lights on and meet climate change targets. At the same time, UK technology and expertise will be able to lead world export markets as global interest in biomethane grows,” said Morton.

According to Morton, with 10 more plants scheduled to come online in the next 12 months, biomethane from AD should be recognised as a serious commercial energy proposition.

Chief executive of Energy Networks Association, David Smith, representing the UK electricity and gas transmissions and distribution networks, said: “This is a very positive step towards greater use of green gas, an important part of an affordable low carbon future.

“Our members support the use of biomethane injection but it is essential that barriers faced in many projects like Poundbury across the country are removed. Challenges such as gas and waste regulation risk stunting this area of growth and we need to see a Minister responsible to provide a controlling mind that will resolve them and ensure momentum after this project.”

Leigh Stringer

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