Rubbish ‘could heat half of UK homes’

Half of Britain's homes could be heated by turning our sewage, food waste and unwanted wood into biogas, according to a report from National Grid.

The report, written by Ernst and Young, claims that biogas, produced from biodegradable waste, could become a reliable source of green energy for heating, filling the void that will be left as North Sea gas reserves run down.

Biogas is already being produced in small quantities at landfill and sewage plants in the UK, but it is being used to generate electricity.

However, National Grid says these valuable waste resources could be used more efficiently by turning them into biomethane to meet the country’s domestic gas needs.

The report says the move would also help the UK to meet its target of using 20% of energy needs from renewable sources by 2020.

“Biogas has tremendous potential for delivering large scale renewable heat for the UK, but it will require Government commitment to a comprehensive waste policy and the right commercial incentives,” said Janine Freeman, head of National Grid’s Sustainable Gas Group.

“Biogas has benefits on so many fronts. It is renewable and could help to meet the target for our energy coming from renewable sources by 2020, it provides a solution for what to do with our waste with the decline in landfill capacity, and it would help the UK with a secure supply of gas as North Sea sources run down.”

The report estimates that production costs would be a similar price to other renewable energy sources, but concludes that because the country already has an extensive gas grid, there would be little need for disruptive infrastructure development or any major inconvenience to consumers.

Biomethane is also a proven energy source in Europe, where it is already being produced and injected into gas grids.

The report has now been handed to Energy and Climate Change Minister Ed Miliband.

Kate Martin

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