Britons looking for an affordable and green way to heat their homes could find the answer in the nation’s dustbins, according to a new report commissioned by gas distribution network Cadent.
Black bag domestic rubbish, together with agricultural residues, energy crops, sewage, and food waste, could generate enough green gas to heat between seven and 15 million homes annually, the study found.
The Bioenergy Market Review was compiled by sustainable energy consultants Anthesis and E4tech. It found that by 2050, renewable gas produced from waste and non-waste feedstocks could generate between 68 and 183 TerraWatt hours of biomethane – potentially enough to meet annual gas demand for homes across the whole of south east England, London and East Anglia.
David Parkin, Cadent’s Director of Network Strategy, said: “In its Clean Growth Strategy the Government indicated that it would be exploring the potential of renewable gas and we are keen to work with them on this.
“The findings of this report show that with the right policies in place renewable gas could play a significant role in helping the UK meet its carbon reduction targets, particularly in heat and transport, which are lagging behind electricity.
“Economic studies suggest that relying solely on electricity to heat our homes and workplaces could be billions of pounds more expensive than ‘greening’ the gas network. Repurposing the existing gas network for ‘green’ gases would be over £10,000 cheaper per customer between now and 2050 and could open the door to a world-leading green industry, generating new jobs.
“Alongside other green energy solutions, renewable gas offers us an affordable, sustainable route to heat our homes and fuel transport, while tackling climate change, and contributing towards more sustainable waste management and cleaner air.”
There are currently more than 80 biogas plants connected to Britain’s gas network. Crops, food waste, sewage and manure are fermented in anaerobic digesters – dubbed concrete cows’ stomachs – to create biomethane.
On a single day this summer, for the first time, more than 250,000 cubic metres of renewable gas enter Cadent’s gas network, which covers North London, the Midlands, East Anglia and the North West. This is enough to heat every home in Liverpool or Sheffield.
The report indicates that renewable gas production could grow substantially over the next thirty years with the right support. It provides analysis of the wider range of feedstocks, including black bag wastes, which might be used should world-leading Bio-Substitute Natural Gas (BioSNG) technology be deployed more widely.
In 2015, over 15 million tonnes of waste were sent to landfill or exported to Europe. In future this could be diverted to renewable gas production.
The world’s first BioSNG commercial demonstration plant, in Swindon, is due to open next year. The £25 million facility is being developed by Advanced Plasma Power, Progressive Energy, the Department of Transport, Cadent, and Wales and the West Utilities. For more information go to the website: http://gogreengas.com/