Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Information for Wasters about the UK's Pre-Budget Report

Waste@Westminster News


The Chancellor of the Exchequer, Alistair Darling MP, has issued the pre-budget report for 2009, emphasising the Government’s desire not to let the current economic downturn impact on spending on renewable energy and other environmental projects.

“Action to achieve environmental goals remains a high priority,” he stated in his address to Parliament. Of key importance, the pre-budget report states the Renewables Obligation will be extended until “at least 2037”, in order to encourage increased investment in renewable energy technologies.

In addition the report reaffirms the Government’s aim to implement a feed in tariff for small-scale energy generation (under 5MW) and a renewable heat incentive to encourage more on site generation. Furthermore a new Low Carbon Industrial Strategy will be developed in 2009, outlining a vision of how companies can take advantage of a “low-carbon economy”.

The report also confirms that the scheduled increases in landfill tax, by £8 per tonne up to 2010/11 will go ahead and indeed will continue post-2011.

The increase in the lower rate of landfill tax, applying to inactive waste, from £2 per tonne to £2.50 (to be frozen at £2.50 in 2009/10) will also stay unchanged, as will the planned phase-out of the exemption from landfill tax for waste arising from the clean up of contaminated land by 2012 (in order to extend land remediation relief).

Finally, as previously announced, a new packaging strategy will be produced in 2009 setting out how packaging policy can contribute to a low carbon economy by reducing waste at source and increasing recycling.

To read the Chancellor’s statement to Parliament in full click here, or to read the full chapter, delivering on environmental goals, click here.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Farm Biogas Distribution Network a US First for Cow Power

Despite economic woes and lack of green vision from the Bush administration, the Americans have done it again! They have, in California, gone ahead with the world's first and most amazing biogas distribution pipeline system for farm biogas.

BioEnergy Solutions: Kern County Supervisors Approve First-in-the-Nation Biogas Distribution Network
Landmark Cow Power Project Will Link up to Nine Farms to Generate Electricity for California Homes

BAKERSFIELD, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--The Kern County Board of Supervisors has approved construction of a biogas distribution network that will for the first time produce renewable natural gas from multiple dairy farms to generate power for utility customers, BioEnergy Solutions announced.

The distribution network, the first of its kind to be approved by a government authority in the U.S., will produce biogas from cow manure on as many as nine dairies in eastern Kern County, upgrade it to utility standards and deliver it into a nearby Pacific Gas & Electric Company (PG&E) pipeline.

Construction will begin in early 2009.

“California is the leading dairy producer in the U.S. and its dairies, with their abundant supplies of cow manure, have great potential for the production of renewable natural gas,” said David Albers, president of BioEnergy Solutions and a third-generation dairyman. “California’s dairy community is poised to pioneer the large-scale production of this cleaner, greener form of energy and create a model for agricultural and energy producers nationwide.”

Three of the nine farms have agreed to supply biogas to the network: C&R Vanderham Dairy, Inc., Whiteside Dairy and Vermeer and Goedhart Dairy. Their combined herd of 6,500 milk cows is expected to produce 615,000 cubic feet of natural gas a day, enough to generate power for 3,000 California homes.

BioEnergy Solutions, which builds and operates biogas pipeline facilities in California, will construct an underground pipeline linking the dairies which are located south of Lerdo Highway between the City of Shafter and Interstate 5. Biogas from the farms will be transported through the pipeline to an upgrade facility located at the Vermeer and Goedhart Dairy on Magnolia Avenue in Shafter.

Manure from the dairies’ cows will be mixed with water and flushed into a large covered lagoon on each farm. As the manure breaks down naturally and produces methane, a greenhouse gas 21 times as potent as carbon dioxide, the gas will be captured and delivered through an underground pipeline to the purification facility to remove its corrosive materials and upgrade it to utility standards. The resulting renewable natural gas, more than 99 percent pure methane, will be pressurized and delivered into the PG&E pipeline for use in the production of energy for residential customers in northern and central California.

Known as the Shafter cluster, the nine-farm network could include as many as 26,700 milk cows, 17 percent of the dairy herd population in Kern County, and produce enough clean-burning natural gas to meet the energy needs of 12,000 California homes. The cluster could also reduce the equivalent of 220,000 tons of carbon dioxide annually, which is the same as taking 38,500 cars off local roads.

BioEnergy Solutions’ first biogas project began production earlier this year at Vintage Dairy in western Fresno County. It is producing 175,000 cubic feet of natural gas a day, enough to power 1,200 California homes. A neighboring farm, the Pier van der Hoek ... More...

Friday, November 14, 2008

French Natural Gas Network Soon to Accept Biomethane

Biomethane is coming to the French natural gas network

In France, authorisation for injecting biomethane fuel into the natural gas distribution network has until now been subject to an assessment of the environmental and health risks. The French Agency for Health and Safety in the Environment and Workplace (AFSSET) came to a favourable conclusion on the 29th October. The injection of biomethane into the network, as well as a fiscal approach which favours the principle of “green gas”, will allow the field of biomethane fuel, considered the best way of developing biogas, to make progress under much better conditions.

Although natural gas as a fuel is already considered to be safe, efficient and less polluting than petrol or diesel, French support for the field of biomethane fuel is fairly recent. However, initiatives have demonstrated all of its benefits. In Lille (Metropolitan Urban Community, LMCU), the methanisation of urban organic waste has meant that the biomethane obtained has been used as a fuel in the city’s buses and domestic waste disposal vehicles. Furthermore, this approach has been legitimised environmentally by a study of the life cycle of the methods of developing biogas, commissioned in September 2007 by ADEME and GDF (to download the ACV conclusions, go to the BiogasMax web site).

At the ‘Grenelle’ Environment Conference (October 2007) the biogas club had submitted several ways of proceeding with the work for developing this field, which has enormous ecological benefits.

The club’s voice was heard: at a recent conference on this subject, Charles ThiĆ©baut (from the Department of Risk Prevention at the Ministry of the Environment, Energy, Sustainable Development and Town and Country Planning) said that “the commitment had been made to favour methanisation by supporting it and modifying regulations” (National Technical Day conference, 07.10.08 – Succeeding with a methanisation project including household, agricultural and industrial waste, ADEME).

The development of the biogas fuel field was waiting for authorisation to inject its biomethane into the natural gas network, as even if the production of biogas is continuous, vehicle consumption can fluctuate. In order to be used as a fuel, biogas has to undergo processes known as “purification” (drying, desulphurisation, decarbonisation) which makes biomethane very similar to NGV natural gas for vehicles.

In the first instance, therefore, authorisation for injection had to be subject to technical specifications. These having been established and published by GDF in December 2007, (download the GDF technical specifications), there only remained the assessment of risks to public health and the environment.

This study was requested from the French Agency for Health and Safety in the Environment and Workplace (AFSSET) in September 2006. Its conclusions are now available and are “unequivocally favourable when biogas is produced from methanisation of waste or from storage of non-dangerous waste.”

Very soon, therefore, the Centre for Organic Development (CVO) in Lille-Sequedin should receive authorisation from the Ministry in charge of energy and be able to put into operation the connection of its canalisation system of purified biogas with the French gas network. Having opened the way, it will be the local authorities who will subsequently issue these authorisations. More here...

Thursday, November 13, 2008

UK Energy Bill to Include Renewable Heat Incentive

The Energy Bill received its third reading in the House of Lords on 5 November 2008 and includes proposals from the Department for Energy and Climate Change for a scheme to incentivise investment in renewable heat. Currently, energy used for heating accounts for just under half of all the UK’s carbon dioxide emissions, while only 0.6% of heat generated in the UK is derived from renewable sources.

The Government has been considering for some time how to reduce heat-related emissions and boost heat generation from renewable sources. Earlier this year, the Government issued a Call for Evidence on Heat (see our related Law-Now) and sought views on introducing a financial incentive to encourage heat from renewable sources in Chapter 4 of its consultation on the UK Renewable Energy Strategy (see Law-Now).

The amendments to the Energy Bill will enable a scheme to provide financial support to any supplier of renewable heat. Support may also be available to producers of biogas or biomethane or to producers of biofuel used for generating heat. The scheme will provide a welcome boost to renewable CHP (Combined Heat and Power) producers and the bio-waste industry, among others.

Key points to note are:

- There is flexibility to band the level of support according to the technology used for generating heat.
- Eligible renewable heat sources for the scheme are biomass, biofuels, fuel cells, water (including waves and tides), solar power, geothermal sources, heat from air, water or the ground and combined heat and power systems (using a renewable fuel only).
- There is no specified limit on the size of plant which will be eligible for support, as the scheme is intended to cover both domestic and industrial scale projects.
- The scheme will be financed by fossil fuel suppliers, perhaps through a levy which would be administrated by Ofgem.

The amendments to the Energy Bill do not contain information on when the scheme will come into force, but the government has acknowledged it would take at least 18 months to develop the details of the scheme and implement the necessary secondary legislation.

The Government’s consultation expected later in November as part of the development of its Heat and Energy Efficiency Strategy is likely to provide a forum to develop the details of the scheme. In that consultation, the governement will consider the issue of heat in the round from a low carbon, renewable and CHP perspective, as well as links to energy efficiency, notes Hergen Haye, the Director for Heat Policy at DECC.

The Energy Bill now only requires the House of Commons to approve the Lords’ amendments before receiving royal assent.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Selby Yorkshire Anaerobic Digestion Plant Goes to Planning

£20m green energy plant raises hopes of 120 jobs

Published Date: 08 November 2008
By Mark Branagan
MORE than 120 jobs will be created in the Selby area under a £20m scheme announced yesterday to produce enough green energy from left-over food to light up the entire town.

Planning consent is being sought for a renewable power plant – by Grantham-based Whites Renewable Energy – on the site of the former Tate and Lyle citric acid plant, with its motorway links via the Selby by-pass.

Developers say the eight-acre Selby Renewable Energy Park would create 120 jobs for the town, 40 directly and 80 indirectly. It would also generate enough clean, renewable energy to power 10,800 homes for a year via the National Grid – equivalent to the whole of the town.

The plant would use the latest technology for treating organic waste, particularly food waste, in Britain, called anaerobic digestion. The process involves sealing off organic matter in containers with no oxygen and breaking it down into a gas used to generate power.

Because the raw material is kitchen scraps the system has the advantage over other bio-fuels that it is not increasing demand for food products and pushing up High Street prices. There is also a fertiliser by-product that can help grow crops.

Whites managing director David Balderson said: "Anaerobic digestion is widely recognised by the Government and Friends of the Earth as one of the best solutions for disposing of organic waste.

"Everyone wins, as the waste is treated in a sealed process reducing the generation of greenhouse gases and carbon emissions. A clean, renewable fuel is produced which can be used to create electricity and heat."

The plant will also provide a potential low-cost heat source for local businesses. An anaerobic digester already exists on the site, which is currently being updated. The proposal is to build two similar pieces of equipment.

Mr Balderson added: "This project will provide a significant boost to the local economy by creating jobs and will also make available a cheap non-fossil fuel heat source that will attract businesses to the area."

The firm says the initial response from the community has been very positive, as has that of the Government-backed Waste and Resources Action Program and Future Energy Yorkshire, an arm of Yorkshire Forward which promotes renewable energy projects.

Future Energy project manager Jo Adlard said: "The Yorkshire and Humber region has an important role to play in helping the UK to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions.

"The proposed Selby Renewable Energy Park will contribute to our regional emissions reduction targets by generating renewable energy for export to the National Grid, while diverting large quantities of waste from landfill."

A report by the Department of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has already underlined the Government's wish for local authorities and businesses to make anaerobic digestion first choice for disposing of the 15-20 million tonnes of waste food in Britain every year.

Government experts say it has significant benefits over other technologies, is the preferred method in other EU states, and has the potential to power two million UK homes. More...

Sunday, November 02, 2008

UK Energy Bill - Feed-in Tariffs Welcomed by Biogas Industry

Legislation News from the New Energy Focus Web Site; Industry welcomes feed-in tariffs for power and heat

Biomethane transport fuels company CNG Services has said the renewable heat incentive would allow "green gas" to be used to fuel commercial vehicles.

The renewable energy industry has welcomed government plans to bring in feed-in tariffs for green power and heat - but has called for a clear timetable for their introduction.

Separate tariff schemes are being developed to promote small scale electricity generation and to incentivise the use of renewable fuels in producing heat (see this New Energy Focus story).

The renewable energy sector's trade association, the Renewable Energy Association, said today that the proposals being included within the Energy Bill are "vague" and that no timetable is given within the legislation.

The REA, which has been lobbying for some time to get a feed-in tariff to promote both small scale renewable electricity and heat, said there was enthusiasm among its members for the government's decision to adopt the measures.

Philip Wolfe, director general of the REA, said: "The REA has repeatedly called for the introduction of a tariff and we are delighted that government has recognised that this incentive will encourage new groups of players into the market. We also welcome the recognition of the urgent need to support renewable heat and biogas. Heat represents the biggest energy use in the UK, and had previously been ignored by policy-makers.

"However the amendments it has tabled are very vague and the lack of any firm timetable shows that there's still a long way to go," Mr Wolfe added.

3MW Cap

The wind industry's trade association, the British Wind Energy Association, also welcomed the feed-in tariff amendment, but expressed concern regarding the 3MW cap included within the legislation.

This cap means that projects above a 3MW size would receive support through the Renewables Obligation, with smaller projects rewarded with the feed-in tariff. However, the government could set a lower cap through secondary legislation as it finalises the details of the feed-in tariffs.

Jennifer Webber, public affairs manager at BWEA, told New Energy Focus today: "We are delighted to see that the Secretary of State has tabled this amendment as we have been calling for it for some time. However we do feel that the threshold of 3MW is too high, and we are concerned that it could interfere with the function of the Renewables Obligation. We would like to see the threshold lowered to 250-300kW."

The biogas sector has welcomed the proposed renewable heat incentive, suggesting the move was "potentially significant".

Biogas companies believe the incentive will offer an alternative to the current Renewables Obligation, which pushes plants like anaerobic digesters to generate electricity by burning biomethane - wasting the heat produced in the power generation.

UK Incentives for Anaerobic Digestion Welcomed

Biogas Firms Welcome Natural Methane Incentives

As scientists claim methane emissions are rising faster than expected, the government unveils plans for improved incentives for methane capture projects, says
Andrew Donoghue, BusinessGreen, 31 Oct 2008

Industry has welcomed the government's introduction this week of a new clause in the energy bill which will provide incentives for natural methane capture and biogas projects designed to produce renewable energy.

The move increases existing support for renewable methane projects, which produce or capture methane from landfill sites, sewage and slurry, or anaerobic digestor technologies, and aims to make it easier to connect the resulting biogas grid.

Under the new amendment, renewable gas producers will be able to add the methane to the gas grid and will receive government subsidies for that process, according to gas consultancy CNGS Services.

"At the moment the UK is the biggest producer of biogas in Europe," said CNG's managing director, John Baldwin. "By 2020, I hope that the UK government will have implemented a target, in the same way the Dutch and German governments have a target, so that 10 per cent of the gas that is burned is renewable."

According to Baldwin, it is important that the government gets behind renewable or biogas production because North Sea reserves of natural gas are decreasing and by 2020, the UK's use of indigenous suppliers could drop to about 30 per cent compared with 70 per cent imported gas. But with backing for renewable gas, the figures could change to 30 per cent use of indigenous fossil gas, 10 per cent from renewables and 60 per cent from imports, Baldwin claims.

Currently, generators of electricity from renewable sources receive a Renewable Obligation Certificate (ROC) for every megawatt produced. From next April, electricity created from natural methane will be credited with two ROCs for every megawatt – equivalent to about £100.

CNG and other members of the Renewable Energy Association hope that the amendments to the energy bill announced this week will also provide incentives – equivalent to two ROCs – rewarding electricity producers for the waste heat that is generated from burning renewable gas.

Renewable gas is only about 30 per cent efficient and a lot of heat is wasted, but by adding the gas to the grid, backers of the technology believe that the wasted energy can be more efficiently harnessed.

The increased support for renewable methane follows reports released this week that levels of natural methane in the atmosphere have increased dramatically over the past 12 months. According to scientists from MIT, the rise in 2007 was about 10 parts per billion over the course of a year.

The rise is being put down to a decline in the amounts of a compound called hydroxyl free radical, which naturally breaks up methane in the atmosphere. Methane is a greenhouse gas which is many times more effective than carbon at blocking in heat.

Commenting on the rise, CNG's Baldwin said that one way to combat the rise of natural methane is to make sure more waste is used to create renewable gas that can be harnessed and burned, rather than allowing it to generate natural methane.