The National Grid has forecast that the development of anaerobic digestion infrastructure and biogas production has the potential to be a significant source of fuel for the UK.
Biodegradable waste streams, such as food and wood waste could be turned into biogas and injected into the gas distribution system, according to a new study by the National Grid and analysts Ernst and Young.
In the study entitled, The potential for renewable gas in the UK, the National Grid claims that using waste to produce biogas will require an investment of £10 billion on new waste infrastructure. Up to half of the countrys domestic gas heating could be met by turning waste into biogas.
National Grid sustainable gas group head Janine Freeman said: Biogas has tremendous potential for delivering large scale renewable heat for the UK but it will require Government commitment to a comprehensive waste policy and the right commercial incentives.
Biogas has benefits on so many fronts. It is renewable and could help to meet the target of 15% of all our energy coming from renewable sources by 2020. It provides a solution for what to do with our waste with the decline in landfill capacity and it would help the UK with a secure supply of gas as North Sea sources run down.
The National Grid calls for Government to act urgently to deliver a comprehensive waste policy for the UK to ensure that each waste stream is directed to the most appropriate technology to maximise energy recovery and recycling.
The report said that the UK will need to make a significant investment in waste infrastructure to deal with declining landfill capacity. It added that AD and gasification was preferable to incineration from an emissions perspective as they do not face the same kind of environmental, air pollution issues as incineration.
In cost terms, it is estimated that biogas would be a similar price to other renewable energy sources and the report concludes that there are no insurmountable technical difficulties to delivering biogas.
The National Grid has now handed its report to Minister for Energy and Climate Change Ed Miliband.
Image: Energos gasification plant