Bio-SNG is UK’s best untapped gas resource

A study by three major energy layers in the UK has concluded that bio-synthetic natural gas could help to make huge strides in cutting the country’s carbon footprint. And the […]

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By Kelvin Ross

A study by three major energy layers in the UK has concluded that bio-synthetic natural gas could help to make huge strides in cutting the country’s carbon footprint.

And the report singles out Teesside in the north east of England as a potential bio-SNG hub.

The study by National Grid, Centrica and the North East Process Industry Cluster looked at the potential for bio-synthetic natural gas to be delivered via the gas grid.

Bio-SNG is formed during the conversion of thermally-derived synthetic gas into methane. Unlike biomethane produced by anaerobic digestion, feedstocks can include more durable material such as woody biomass and wastes that are not broken down in traditional anaerobic digester plants.

Although anaerobic digestion of organic material has been widely accepted as an important renewable energy technology, the report states that production of bio-SNG is required to move to higher levels of fossil fuel replacement.

The study concludes that the major processes required to produce bio-SNG can be identified and assembled using existing technologies and it is significantly more cost-effective per tonne of CO2 abated than heat pumps or domestic and commercial biomass heating, and more cost-effective than electrical solutions for transport applications.

Mark Fairbairn, executive director for gas distribution at National Grid, said: “Given appropriate incentives, renewable bio-SNG could form an increasingly important proportion of gas supplies and so help the UK to meet the 2050 greenhouse gas reduction targets.”

And Dr Stan Higgins, chief executive of NEPIC, added: “Bio-SNG as a transport fuel and for both industrial and domestic applications offers a significant opportunity to reduce the carbon footprint.”

The report also states that “in terms of taking forward a UK demonstration project, Teesside is a highly attractive location because of its chemical industry, ability to utilise waste heat and co-products and extensive high pressure gas grid”.

National Grid, NEPIC and Centrica are sharing the details of the study with the Department of Energy and Climate Change and the Committee on Climate Change. The trio also claim that the results of the study are also highly relevant to the current Defra Review of Waste Policies, as “the production of Bio-SNG could help to maximise the contribution that waste management makes to the government’s energy goals”.