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New quality protocol to stimulate biogas production

A new quality protocol (QP) for biomethane is expected to significantly stimulate growth in the biogas sector, according to the Environment Agency (EA).

The QP sets out end of waste criteria for production and use of biomethane emitted from organic wastes in landfill sites or anaerobic digestion (AD) plants.

It will enable the injection of the gas into the grid or use in other suitable appliances without the need for waste regulatory controls.

The QP was developed by the EA with support from WRAP, industry representatives and funding from LIFE + and is applicable immediately in England and Wales.

Biomethane is expected to account for 1% of the UK’s domestic annual demand for natural gas by 2020. The EA claimed this will reduce UK dependence on imported gas, as well as reducing emissions of carbon dioxide and delivering £34m annual cost savings to business.

It said even greater savings are possible should other barriers also be removed.

EA environment and business manager Roger Hoare said: “Biomethane to grid is an embryonic sector in the UK at present, with only a handful of trial projects in operation.

“This is largely due to cost and regulatory barriers that exist, one of which is the waste status of biogas from landfill and AD. This QP provides a route to overcoming this barrier.”

Matt Hindle, policy manager of the Anaerobic Digestion and Biogas Association, said: “Biomethane has huge potential as a form of renewable energy which can decarbonise hard-to-reach areas such as industrial processes, heating and road transport.

“The QP will help developers and operators by giving greater certainty around waste controls.”

He told MRW he was expecting the first major waste gas-to-grid plant to be announced in the next few months and around 10 more to be announced in the coming year.

For the Renewable Energy Association, certification manager Ciaran Burns said: “This is a very welcome step forward in the development of the UK biomethane industry. This confirms once and for all that biomethane from AD can be treated as resource rather than waste, eliminating the need for costly waste handling controls”.

The protocol will be hosted on the Green Gas Certification Scheme website.

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