The injection of renewable or “green” gas into UK networks has been growing rapidly – and there are now 28 biomethane to grid projects connected to the gas distribution network, transforming food, brewery and agricultural wastes and energy crops into ultra-clean energy.
These plants have the capacity to produce 1.8 billion kilowatt hours of gas per year, enough to meet the heating and cooking needs of around 100,000 homes.
Biomethane injected into the gas grid, helps decarbonise gas supply in just the same way as renewable electricity decarbonises power generation.
Renewable gas sparks considerable public interest, and for this reason energy suppliers are keen to publicise their use of biomethane. But “green gas” isn’t a different colour – so how do people know what they are getting?
The answer is the Green Gas Certification Scheme (GGCS). This provides gas suppliers and end users with confidence as to the renewable origin of the gas, by tracking the biomethane from the moment it is injected into the gas grid to the time it is sold to a customer.
The majority of the established biomethane-to-grid plants are already registered with the GGCS and many of the new plants are expected to join.
The scheme was launched in 2011, by founder members including National Grid, E.On, British Gas and Thames Water. It grew from four to fourteen trading participants over the course of 2014, and cumulatively it has now sold 50 million kilowatt hours of gas. The GGCS organisers say that this time next year that could have passed 2 billion.
Virginia Graham, Chief Executive of Renewable Energy Assurance Ltd – which certifies the green gas scheme – said: “We are happy with the expansion of the scheme. The GGCS is not for profit and is governed by its participants. Last year they decided to reduce the gas throughput fees by 75%, thus saving the participants a total of £120,000. They also decided that any surpluses will be used to the benefit of the industry as a whole.”
John Baldwin, Chief Executive of CNG Gas Services and GGCS founder, added: “Over the course of 2015, we anticipate an additional 12 projects to come on line. That will bring annual green gas production to 2.3 TWh per year. Put another way, that’s 2.3 billion units of gas per year that the UK won’t have to be importing from the Middle East or three 60,000 tonne LNG tankers not needing to dock at our ports.”