Powering a greener future with household waste.
Proven technology has the potential to meet one third of the UK’s domestic heat requirements.
Construction has begun on a new green energy plant that will be the world’s first commercially viable facility to convert household waste to a green gas called bio-substitute natural gas (BioSNG) – which emits 80% less carbon dioxide than the diesel used widely in the UK.
The developers of the plant in Wiltshire, Advanced Plasma Power and National Grid Gas Distribution, say their pioneering technology has the potential to use waste to generate 100TWh of BioSNG each year if deployed nationwide. This could fulfil one third of the UK’s annual heating requirements or power all of the UK’s heavy goods vehicles.
BioSNG can be used in existing appliances, such as boilers and cookers, and distributed in existing gas networks – as well as in transport – representing a major step forward in decarbonising the energy system. Whilst the power generation sector has made huge progress towards decarbonisation in recent years, decarbonising heat and transport – worth 74% of energy usage – has proved a more stubborn challenge, and is an established government priority.
The first plant, near Swindon, will take in 10,000 tonnes of waste from the local area and produce 22GWh of BioSNG, enough to heat 1,500 homes. It will also reduce emissions of harmful greenhouse gases by 5,000 tonnes per annum. Utilising waste in this way allows extra value to be derived from a product that could otherwise have been sent to landfill. The £25m facility is funded by an £11m grant from the Department for Transport’s Advanced Biofuels Competition, as well as Ofgem’s Network Innovation Competition and the project partners.
The plant also brings jobs and investment to the local area, with 50 roles created during the construction phase and additional full time skilled jobs once operational from 2018 onwards.
The pioneering technology has been developed at a £5m pilot plant in Swindon, a joint project between National Grid, Advanced Plasma Power and Progressive Energy.
Advanced Plasma Power are also exploring the potential to use their technology to produce hydrogen, which would further reduce carbon emissions as the UK moves to a more sustainable energy mix.
Progressive Energy provide strategic and engineering direction for the project, whilst Wales & West will connect the facility to the gas grid, and CNG Services advise on the use of gas in transport.
Ground was broken yesterday at a high-level ceremony for 100 guests – including representatives from the project partners and associated industries, along with politicians Robert Buckland, MP for South Swindon, Alan Whitehead, the Shadow Energy and Climate Change Minister, and former Home Secretary Lord Howard.
Rolf Stein, CEO of Advanced Plasma Power said:
“Advanced Plasma Power is delighted to be commencing construction of the world’s first commercial gasification plant to produce green gas from household waste. As our technology matures we will be able to convert waste into fuels cost competitively with fossil fuels, helping to achieve an affordable, secure and sustainable low carbon future.”
Transport Minister John Hayes said:
“Biofuels have an important role to play in keeping Britain moving and will deliver cleaner, greener fuels.
“Thanks to our £11 million investment this Swindon plant will help make significant carbon savings and deliver a boost to the technology.
“Advanced biofuels have the potential to save at least 60% of the greenhouse gas emissions from the equivalent fossil fuel – and Advanced Plasma Power are at the forefront of this pioneering technology.”
Chris Train OBE, from National Grid Gas Distribution, said:
“National Grid Gas Distribution are pleased to invest in this important project. Developing green gas technologies, such as BioSNG, will allow our customers to keep on using our network to heat their homes affordably while reducing greenhouse gas emissions.”
Chris Manson-Whitton from Progressive Energy said:
“This is an exciting project which addresses the need to reduce emissions from heat and transport. BioSNG provides a non-disruptive and affordable solution to deliver carbon savings now, and provides a pathway to deeper potential reductions through hydrogen production.”