The Environment Agency has published a revised draft end-of-waste quality protocol (QP) for biomethane from landfill gas and anaerobic digestion (AD) following public consultation.

The QP sets out criteria for the production of biomethane from waste which, if complied with, will allow injection to the gas grid and use in suitably designed appliances without the need for waste management controls.

A number of QPs have been implemented over recent years to reduce regulatory barriers to recovery of valuable waste streams by establishing the point at which the waste can be considered to be a fully recovered product.

The QP for biomethane from waste is being developed under the EU Life-funded European Pathway to Zero Waste (EPOW) project, which is a partnership between the Environment Agency and WRAP.

Injection to the gas grid is the most efficient use of biomethane but, to date, only a handful of gas-to-grid plants are operating in the UK.

One of the most recent to start up is the JV Energen plant at Poundbury in Dorset, opened last November by HRH the Prince of Wales.

A joint venture between local farmers and the Duchy of Cornwall in association with Scotia Gas Networks, the plant at full capacity produces around 400 cubic metres of gas per hour into the local gas grid.

According to EPOW programme director Margaret Doherty, the QP would remove a practical barrier to use of waste-derived biomethane, particularly for injection to the gas grid.

“It [would] help pave the way for more schemes like Poundbury to make a substantial contribution to renewable energy targets and reduced reliance on imported gas. Resulting growth in AD would in turn bring benefits in reducing waste to landfill,” she explained.

Consultation on an earlier draft QP was conducted between July and September 2012. Its revision has seen significant simplification and rationalisation of compliance monitoring requirements in response to comments that the original proposals could be overly burdensome, particularly for smaller operations.

Target implementation date for the QP for biomethane is Autumn 2013.

Maxine Perella

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