Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Bio-methane for Transport Vehicle Use Encouraged in United Kingdom

The following post was placed on the KARAMEL web site and appeared in Biogasmax ( ) on 6 March 2008, and although it is not exactly a new posting, I thought it of sufficient interest to include here.

I am not absolutely certain about the definition of bio-methanisation as used by the Europeans, but in this context it appears to be refering to the scrubbing and compressing of biologically produced methane, as is produced by anaerobic digestion.

The posting follows:-

Increasing interest for bio-methane in the United Kingdom
The United Kingdom is becoming more and more interested in bio-methanisation and in bio-methane for vehicle use. This renewable « natural gas » has already attracted the attention of the UK government. English companies with an interest in natural gas and renewable energies, supported by John Baldwin (Managing Director of CNG Services Ltd), are hoping to obtain the same financial status for this « green » gas as that accorded to «green» electricity. During the Biogasmax Friends Day (30.01.08 in Bern), we were pleased to welcome a scientific observer from Exeter University. As well as this, on March 03, 2008, Cenex organized a one-day conference in London to promote organic waste bio-methanisation with the aim of clean fuel production.

Since 2005 – 2006, six new bio-methanisation plants have been built in the United Kingdom, increasing UK capacity by over 100%. In 2007, two new plants were started and many new biogas projects indicate that similar levels of expansion are now possible in Germany.

The British Minister for Sustainable Consumption and Production, Joan Ruddock, declared that her Department considered «Anaerobic Digestion» the best process for dealing with organic waste. Many studies show that the energy cost of upgrading biogas to bio-methane is insignificant and there are no regulatory barriers to injecting bio-methane into the natural gas grid.

The UK Gas Industry Trade Association, along with NGVA Europe (Natural Gas Vehicle Association) and REA (Renewable Energy Association) are lobbying for this renewable gas in order to get financial support from the government. They are claiming equivalent treatment for bio-methane as that accorded to «green» electricity, so that gas suppliers could offer «green» gas tariffs. John Baldwin, Managing Director of CNG Services Ltd, supports this campaign, pointing out that bio-methane production offers solutions to many problems: waste recycling, reduction in global warming and reduction in fossil fuel imports.

To underline his point about the huge potential of bio-methane, John Baldwin quotes the experiences of Biogasmax partners such as Sweden, Austria, Switzerland, and the French town of Lille, which has an Organic Waste Valorisation Centre supplying bio-methane to the city’s buses. At the Biogasmax Friends Day, held in Bern on January 30 2008, our partners were able to take on board the UK interest in our project, welcoming a young researcher from Exeter, Dr. Ulf Winkler, whose work deals with the assessment of best practice in managing urban transport.

On March 03, 2008, Cenex, in partnership with NGVA Europe (Natural Gas Vehicle Association) and Environmental Protection UK, hosted a one-day conference in London (Devonport House, Greenwich). Its purpose was to highlight the environmental virtuous circle of bio-methanisation, which offers both a solution to urban organic waste treatment and a possible answer to the obligation to increase the proportion of biofuel in global consumption.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Biofuels in the European Context: Facts and Uncertainties

The report "Biofuels in the European Context: Facts and Uncertainties" has been published on the Biofuels TP Secretariat web site ( ).

The European Biofuels Technology Platform (Biofuels TP) is EU funded and is to contribute to the development of sustainable, cost-competitive, world-class biofuels technologies, to the creation of a healthy biofuels industry and to accelerate the deployment of sustainable biofuels in the European Union through a process of guidance, prioritisation and promotion of research, development and demonstration.

The platform is now up and running and this is just one of 8 reports now available for downloading from their web site. This provides an interesting new resource for those of us that believe that there is a big future for biofuels from Anaerobic Digestion and wish to learn more. Most new Anaerobic Digestion plants built and planned fior the UK so far have concentrated on electricity production, and I feel that the biofuel capability of AD has hardly yet been properly explored.

After all, wind power, hydro, solar and wave power etc,. will never be able to produce transport fuels directly, and fuel production from methane avoids the power generation and transmission inefficiences inherent in electricity production.

Biofuel from food crops is becoming increasingly unpopular as it is seen as contributory to world food shortages and recent price rises.

This first report introduces its content as follows:-

"The report presents facts, findings and models regarding biofuels in a broad context. It points out the associated uncertainties. The document identifies scenarios which may evolve in either a predictable or non predictable way in the future but which in turn may considerably influence the debate. Finally, this report has identified open issues."

The report devotes only one small section to anaerobic digestion though.

"Making biogas itself saves GHG emissions because it avoids methane release from stored manure, but it is more economic to use biogas locally, to generate electricity and heat. This saves the cost of purification, distribution, compression, storage, and vehicle modifications."

I am not sure at all that "stored manure" produces biogas, perhaps an agricultural expert would email in and tell me...

However, this runs contrary to what a number of people have said to me recently.

I have been told that the additional cost of biofuel conversion equipment is beneficial for biogas plants because during the summer for example when it would be swutched on, there is no heating demand and CHP systems stand idle while biofuel conversion can be taking place on methane gas at a much higher overall efficiency, because the energy efficiency of running biogas power generation without a CHP load are acknowledged to be low.

As ever, your emailed comments are welcome, and we will publish good ones. However, for some obscure technical reason the comments sign-up page does not seem to be functioning on the blog though.