- Up to £400m to be invested in 48 new biomethane plants; operating by January 2020, this will take the UK total from 98 plants now to 146
- UK’s four gas networks collaborate to facilitate connection of these plants to the pipelines that transport gas to heat our homes and fuel HGVs
- During Green Great Britain Week, biomethane is hailed by industry as one of the answers to decarbonising heat and transport in the UK
- Claire Perry, Minister for Energy and Clean Growth: “I’m delighted to see businesses and organisations seizing the opportunity.”
Huge and fast growth is forecast for the UK’s biomethane industry, with predictions of a 50 per cent rise in the number of operating plants – and investment of up to £400m – by January 2020.
The four gas distribution networks (GDNs) which manage the pipes these plants connect to – Cadent, SGN, Northern Gas Networks and Wales & West Utilities – are joining forces to facilitate this anticipated growth in a gas that uses the nation’s waste and other ‘feedstocks’ to make grid-quality biomethane.
These plants stop organic waste going to landfill, where it decays and produces gases more harmful to the environment than carbon [16 per cent of UK methane emissions come from manure management, for example]. Instead, it’s used to make gas that heats thousands of homes and power heavy goods vehicles.
In Cadent’s network area (covering North West England, the East of England, South Yorkshire, the Midlands and parts of the South East), the amount of biomethane currently entering our distribution pipes meets demand for heating 114,000 homes – the equivalent demand from a city the size of Coventry.
However, these plants have the capacity to increase output to meet local demand (for example, in colder months), to volumes that would heat more than 190,000 homes. This is more than the supply needed to meet demand from a city the size of Liverpool or Manchester.
Plant developers are keen to take advantage of a tariff guarantee announced in May’s non-domestic Renewable Heat Incentive regulations. This promise from Government removed uncertainty for investors, but came with a deadline – it will only apply to plants commissioned by 31 January 2020.
Tina Hawke, design manager and lead in this area for Cadent, the biggest UK gas network, and chair of the Energy Networks Association’s biomethane group, said:
The evidence is now pointing to fast growth for biomethane – we know there are around 50 applications for new plants going through the system.
This will provide safe, sustainable gas supplies for homes and businesses for decades to come, and help to reduce the country’s greenhouse gas emissions.
There are currently 48 applications now with Ofgem, for permission to operate new plants. This would take the number of UK plants from 98 to 146.
Charlotte Morton, Chief Executive of the Anaerobic Digestion & Bioresources Association, said:
The restoring of higher tariffs and introduction of tariff guarantees for the Renewable Heat Incentive will give the UK’s biomethane industry a much-needed boost.
We are expecting as many as 50 new biomethane facilities to be built over the coming 18 months as a result of the changes, with an accompanying investment of £300-£400 million.
We’re delighted to see the gas distribution networks working together to enable and support this anticipated growth in biomethane and commit to safely connecting every biomethane plant to the gas grid. This will allow these plants to provide the green gas that we as a country absolutely need to help decarbonise the gas grid and meet our climate-change targets.
Claire Perry, Minister for Energy and Clean Growth, said:
The UK has led the world in cutting emissions whilst growing our economy – with clean growth driving incredible innovation and creating hundreds of thousands of high quality jobs.
Ten years on from the Climate Change Act, the first ever Green GB week is a time to build on our successes and explain the huge opportunities for business and young people of a cleaner economy.
I’m delighted to see how many more businesses and organisations, such as Cadent, are seizing this multi-billion pound opportunity to energize their communities to tackle the very serious threat of climate change.
Tina Hawke added:
We want to do everything we can to support our customers and ensure every one of these new plants is commissioned safely.
We are working very closely with our customers, providing information quickly, to help accelerate the review process, and to enable our customers to secure these tariff guarantees.
The GDNs are working to standardise a number of elements of the design and commissioning process. We’ve set up a working group, through the Energy Networks Association, to develop a GDN Standard Specification. This will bring huge benefits to our customers and the supply chain – there will be a consistency in application irrespective of which GDN you’re working with.
We are also exploring having a single, consolidated GDN project commissioning plan. Historically, we know that projects do not commission to the original dates. With the constraints on resources for this phase of projects, and with the high risk that many will seek to commission during the last quarter of 2019, we need to consider and manage our resources efficiently and effectively, to reduce any risk of not meeting the 31 January 2020 deadline.
David Hurren, CEO of Air Liquide advanced Business and Technology UK, said:
Safety is a core value for our business. As an independent operator of extensive gas pipeline networks, it is paramount that these projects are executed safely.
We are delighted to see the work of the trade associations and gas networks to define the next steps on what will be challenging project delivery timescales up until January 2020.
Biomethane is made when biodegradable matter, such as food waste, sewage, manures, or energy crops, is fermented in anaerobic digesters. This produces gas which we can use to heat homes and power heavy goods vehicles.
No changes are needed to the UK’s existing gas pipe network, or domestic appliances, to accommodate expansion of this source of green gas. Customers would continue to use gas through the same pipes they have now.
Contact for media information only
Cadent Media Relations
Out of hours duty press officer:
0845 366 6769
Notes to Editors:
1. A map showing the location of the existing biomethane plants in Cadent’s four networks is available at https://batchgeo.com/map/CadentBiomethaneProducers
2. A report commissioned by Cadent, and published last year, concluded renewable gases could eventually supply more than 100TWh of energy – enough to heat one third of the UK’s homes or fuel all the heavy goods vehicles.
3. For more information on how Cadent’s supports biomethane plant developers in realising their ambitions to connect into our network, see https://cadentgas.com/business-with-us/biomethane
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