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Quality Protocol aims to boost biomethane from landfill and AD waste


The Environment Agency has published a revised draft end of waste Quality Protocol (QP) for Biomethane from landfill gas and anaerobic digestion (AD) of waste following public consultation. The QP sets out criteria for the production of biomethane from waste which, if complied with, will allow injection to the gas grid and use in suitably designed appliances (for example vehicles, engines, fuel cells and heating appliances) without the need for waste management controls.

A number of QPs have been implemented over recent years to reduce regulatory barriers to recovery of valuable waste streams by establishing the point at which the waste can be considered to be a fully recovered product. The QP for biomethane from waste is being developed under the EU Life-funded European Pathway to Zero Waste (EPOW) project, which is a partnership between the Environment Agency and WRAP.

Injection to the gas grid is the most efficient use of biomethane but, to date, only a handful of gas-to-grid plants are operating in the UK. One of the most recent to start up is the J V Energen plant at Poundbury in Dorset, opened in November 2012 by HRH the Prince of Wales. A joint venture between local farmers and the Duchy of Cornwall in association with Scotia Gas Networks, the plant at full capacity produces around 400 cubic metres of gas per hour (cu m/h) into the local gas grid, enough to supply heat for up to 4,000 houses in the local community in mid-winter and 56,000 houses during mid-summer.

Margaret Doherty, EPOW Programme Director, said:

A Quality Protocol for biomethane could bring significant benefits for the economy and the environment. The QP sets out carefully considered quality criteria which, if met, mean that biomethane from landfill and AD using waste can be considered to be a product rather than a waste, and need not be subject to waste management controls. This would remove a practical barrier to its use – particularly for injection to the gas grid – and help pave the way for more schemes like Poundbury to make a substantial contribution to renewable energy targets and reduced reliance on imported gas. Resulting growth in AD would in turn bring benefits in reducing waste to landfill.

Consultation on an earlier draft QP was conducted between July and September 2012. All comments received were carefully reviewed by the Technical Advisory Group (TAG) which has been guiding development of the QP. Membership of the TAG includes representatives of the Anaerobic Digestion and Biogas Association (ADBA), Renewable Energy Association (REA), gas distribution network operators, Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), Defra and other interest groups.

Revision of the draft QP for biomethane has seen significant simplification and rationalisation of compliance monitoring requirements in response to comments that the original proposals could be overly burdensome, particularly in relation to biomethane from AD biogas and for smaller operations. Designated end uses for QP compliant biomethane have also been slightly revised so that they now include injection to the gas grid (unchanged from previous version) and ‘use in appliances suitably designed and operated for natural gas’ (changed from ‘use in road vehicles’).

Matt Hindle, Policy Manager, ADBA, said:

Addressing barriers to biomethane projects is vital to realise the benefits which green gas could bring in the UK. A Quality Protocol for biomethane will allow developers and operators to avoid the cost and risk of waste management controls, which will be a welcome step.


This consultation offers the industry a chance to comment on the proposals. These have changed considerably since the previous draft was released in 2012, with a much less burdensome compliance regime and expanded end markets.

The revised draft QP is now available for review and final comments until 28 February on the EPOW website. Following this review, the QP will be finalised before going forward for notification under the EU Technical Standards and Regulations Directive. That process is likely to take between three and six months, taking the target implementation date for the QP for biomethane to autumn 2013.

Media contact: Emer O’Connell, EPOW Communications Manager T: 020 7863 8754

More information on Quality Protocols can be found at

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