The gas industry is calling on the Government to prioritise action on establishing incentives for generating green gas. Companies such as National Grid and Centrica, which owns British Gas, are lobbying the Coalition Government to not delay plans for the introduction of the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI), which is due to come into effect in April 2011. The scheme will guarantee payments for those who install technologies that generate heat from renewable sources, such as biogas. Companies, including National Grid, E.ON, Chesterfield Biogas and United Utilities, are currently carrying out demonstration projects testing the injection of methane produced from renewable sources into the UK’s existing gas grid.
Biomethane is produced by taking the CO2 out of biogas. Biogas is produced by two main processes: anaerobic digestion (AD), which turns wet waste, such as sewage and animal manure, into fuel, and gasification, which is used for drier wastes and energy crops. Yesterday, industry representatives attended an event in the House of Lords held by the trade body the Renewable Energy Association (REA) and attended by Energy Secretary Chris Huhne putting forward the case for green gas. "The industry is calling for DECC (the Department for Energy and Climate Change) to review the RHI consultation [initiated under the previous administration] and come up with its recommendations as soon as possible so that tariffs and regulations are put in place by next April," said John Baldwin, managing director of CNG Services, a company that is supporting the development of injecting biomethane into the gas grid.
The Con-Lib Government has said that it wants to ensure a "huge" increase in energy from waste through AD. However, it has not yet set out how it wants to proceed with the RHI. The UK produces over 100 million tonnes of organic material per year from food waste, livestock slurries, sewage sludge and energy crops and, through the RHI, CNG estimates that by 2025 UK gas production from organic matter could be similar to that produced from the North Sea.
A report by National Grid, meanwhile, has estimated that biogas could supply between 15 per cent and 42 per cent of the UK’s domestic gas needs if converted to methane and pumped straight into the grid. "There are 21 million people connected to the gas grid and there is £50 million worth of central heating and appliances – we have to use them," said Baldwin. "Even if biogas is delivering five or 10 per cent of our gas, it is still chunky. It’s also sustainable and creates jobs." "We want to show the benefits of upgrading to biogas and its injection into the gas grid," said REA head of biogas David Collins. "The industry is completely behind this." Collins said the REA was confident the Government would implement the RHI and would set out how it wanted to do move forward on it this side of the summer recess. Baldwin said the gas industry was ideally looking for a conclusion on the RHI consultation process, including setting tariffs, by the fourth quarter of 2010.