The £25 million facility will be the “world’s first commercially operating bio-substitute natural gas (BioSNG) plant” and will eventually produce 22GWh of gas each year from 10,000 tonnes of household waste. 

The project has been developed by Advanced Plasma Power, Progressive Energy and National Grid Gas Distribution, the last of which signed a deal this week to provide £6.3 million of funding. It will be sited at Advanced Plasma Power’s premises in Swindon and will make use of the company’s ‘Gasplasma’ gasification technology. Financial backing has also been provided by the Department for Transport Advanced Biofuels Competition and the Network Innovation Competition run by Ofgem.

BioSNG production is a thermochemical process that utilises gasification and the methanation of the produced “syngas”. It can be transported through existing natural gas networks to be used in domestic, commercial and industrial heating and CHP applications.

The plant will initially provide fuel for a fleet of 40 trucks operated by a local logistics firm, and by the first half of 2018 will also be able to supply gas to nearby homes and businesses through the network operated by Wales & West Utilities. The developers say the technology has the potential to provide 100TWh each year – “enough to fuel all of Britain’s heavy good vehicles or meet one third of its domestic heating demand”.

National Grid Gas Distribution chief executive Chris Train said: “Developing green technologies such as BioSNG means our customers can keep on using our network and their existing household appliances for affordable energy which will also be more sustainable and eco-friendly. Green gas fuelled vehicles also cause much less pollution than diesel and are particularly suitable for inner cities.”

He continued: “Making gas from household waste also reduces the amount of waste sent to landfill. As a long-established player in the gas industry we’re delighted to be at the forefront of this exciting new frontier in the sector.”

Energy Networks Association chief executive David Smith commented: “The UK’s gas distribution networks are working with industry partners to drive innovation in green gas technology which will provide clean, affordable and sustainable energy to meet the challenges of decarbonisation. 

“The use of green gas, such as BioSNG, biomethane and hydrogen, will also make efficient use of the UK’s extensive gas network infrastructure meaning costs and disruption to customers are minimised.

“We have the opportunity to become a world leader in green gas and low carbon network technology and today’s launch demonstrates the progress that we are making in this increasingly important market.”

By 2035, almost all homes in Britain could be heated by green gas from grass, Ecotricity claimed in a report last week. The independent supplier received planning permission to build a prototype of a first-of-a-kind green gas mill at Sparsholt College in Hampshire in October.

Tom Grimwood

This article first appeared on edie’s sister title, Utility Week

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