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Biomethane as a transport fuel: where is the infrastructure?

Biogas is not just an excellent source of heat and electricity, upgraded to biomethane it also makes an excellent transport fuel. Biomethane has a similar energy content and chemical composition to natural gas and, according to the Carbon Trust, used as a transport fuel offers greater greenhouse gas savings than any other use of biogas. The benefits of using biomethane to fuel transport are being realised elsewhere – half of Stockholm’s municipal vehicles run on biomethane and Sweden upgrades half of the biogas it produces to biomethane.

The benefits of using biomethane to fuel transport fleets are not limited to the reduction of carbon emissions, however. Most notably, biomethane offers vast improvements in air quality and lower running costs compared with diesel. It also offers one of the few renewable fuel options for heavy goods vehicles. Its air quality benefits are particularly important – road pollution in the UK is more than twice as deadly as traffic accidents. And the UK is about to receive quite heavy EU fines for failing to meet air quality targets, which will no doubt be passed onto local authorities.

Despite this, the financial incentives regime does not incentivise biogas producers to produce biomethane for vehicles – the Renewable Transport Fuel Obligation (RTFO) is less attractive than the Feed in Tariff (FiT) and Renewables Obligation (RO) for electricity or the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) for heat or biomethane to grid – and the number of such vehicles in the UK remains low. While companies like Coca-Colahave successfully trialled biomethane to fuel part of their fleet, there are still significant limits to using biomethane as a transport fuel.

The ADBA National Conference 2012will feature a break out session in its programme focusing on biomethane as a transport fuel and particularly the biomethane strategy which will aim to remove some of the barriers and support the wider use of biogas in the transport sector. Chaired by Andrew Whittles, MD of Low Emission Strategies (LES) and ADBA’s transport working group chair, the session will discuss what the strategy needs to do to achieve an increase in the use of biomethane as a transport fuel in the UK. The session will also explore the steps that need to be taken in order to build the infrastructure and secure the right incentives to deliver the strategy. Speakers from businesses already putting biomethane into their companies’ transport strategy include Nick Blake, Sales Engineering Manager – Commercial Vehicles, at Mercedes-Benz UK, Justin Laney, General Manager – Central Transport for the John Lewis Partnership, Andy Eastlake,Managing Director of the Low Carbon Vehicle Partnership (Low CVP) and Chris Nash, Chairman of Gasrec.

Find out more about the ADBA National Conference 2012.

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