Why biomethane is so important on the road to net zero

Future of energy

By Tina Hawke, Connections Services Manager, Cadent

There’s incredible focus right now on hydrogen, particularly after it gained a prominent mention in Boris Johnson’s announcement of a Ten Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution.
 
And that’s clearly a great thing. The zero-carbon credentials of hydrogen makes it ideal for the future UK energy mix. It needs to be with us in high volumes by the 2050 net zero deadline. We're excited to be working with lots of stakeholders to make that happen.
 
But why wait to start making big carbon savings when you’ve got another option, greener than fossil gas, and available now. One that’s grown a large fan base in the space of just eight years.
 
It was 2012 when we first connected a biomethane plant into our gas network; the 82,000 miles of pipes which move gas around our UK footprint, largely unseen because they’re underground.
 
We now have 35 sites, either putting in biomethane or taking it out as a fuel source.
 
More than half the feedstock to make this biomethane comes from agricultural crops or manure, with an increasing volume now coming from food waste.
 
At full capacity, the production sites can supply enough gas to heat nearly 220,000 homes.
 
It’s biomethane that’s convinced managers of HGV fleets there is a credible alternative to diesel, with an astonishing uptake in the number of trucks powered by gas now travelling up, down and across the UK, and beyond. We’ve worked closely with operators of HGV refuelling stations to assist in opening up a strategic network that ensures thousands of HGVs now use gas instead of diesel.
 
The significance of this must not be underestimated. It means major carbon savings – and cleaner air (through reductions in nitrogen oxides) – is happening right now.
 
Big names like Waitrose and the John Lewis Partnership, DHL, Argos and many, many more are investing in new biomethane fleets. That’s because they realise that there’s enough time between now and the large-scale adoption of zero-emission trucks (e.g. hydrogen) for biomethane HGVs to have an impact. Long-range fleet will not leave stock until the 2040s and there are no other viable, greener options available. There is a strong business model for investment.
 
Ensuring we can meet this continued transport sector demand for biomethane – from a diverse feedstock source, to producing it in volume, to transportation to fuel station, to use – is an essential part of the journey, one that current modelling forecasts can achieve as much as 38% reduction in HGV carbon emissions by 2030 (against 2020 levels). It also gets the fleets and the drivers familiar with the process, resulting in a smoother switch to hydrogen when that’s ready for wider rollout.
 
So, the takeaway from this is that we’re excited to get the gas network ready for a zero-carbon, hydrogen-dominant future – but there’s an important transitional period to get us to that end goal. For HGV fleets in particular, that involves the continued and increasing use of biomethane.
 
Learn more about Cadent's role in carrying hydrogen and biomethane in our network here www.cadentgas.com/future-of-gas

This blog was originally written for Energy Now

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