Britain should generate more energy from sewage in order to cut water bills and help save the planet, water regulator Ofwat has said. Enough extra electricity could be generated to power all the homes in Manchester if water companies exploited the underused energy potential of sewage, analysis by one company suggests. Ofwat on Wednesday cited the old adage that “where there’s muck there’s brass” as it unveiled plans to encourage water companies to make greater use of “bioresources”, or treated sewage. Many waste water companies already use anaerobic digestion plants where bacteria breaks down sewage and creates ‘biogas’, which can be fed into the gas grid or burnt to generate low-carbon electricity. Ofwat said it was bringing in changes to “unleash innovation and efficiencies” in the treatment of sewage and that “bill payers could benefit” as a result. Analysis by company Veolia suggests that only half the potential for energy from sewage is currently being exploited. It calculates that the UK generated 846 gigawatt-hours (GWh) of power for sewage in 2015, enough to provide electricity for about 260,000 homes – more than than the size of Manchester. However using more advanced technologies, and increasing the proportion of sludge that is turned into biogas, could more than double this to 1697 GWh per year, it estimates.
Government support of biomethane production in the form of the Renewable Heat Incentive has meant that the number of green gas plants in the UK has risen from just one in 2013 to over 300 now, 60 of which are feeding directly into the grid. The Renewable Energy Association has estimated that green gas could produce as much as a quarter of the UK’s equivalent natural gas imports by 2035. Since the April 1, six per cent of Good Energy’s gas is biomethane – a percentage that will increase as the industry grows.
A new report by the Renewable Energy Association has outlined the potential for Britain to produce the equivalent of more than 45 LNG tankers’ worth of renewable natural gas (in the form of biomethane) per year by 2035. Last year, the UK’s biomethane industry was the fastest growing in the world, and by the end of this year, will produce the equivalent of four LNG tankers worth of gas yearly, which it injects directly into the UK’s natural gas grid. Current levels of biomethane production support the heating and cooking needs of up to 100,000 homes. Biomethane is a renewable gas identical in chemical composition to natural gas, the fossil fuel. There already exists an extensive natural gas transportation and distribution grid in the UK. A total of 50 biomethane projects were completed by the end of 2015, with an additional 15 expected to be completed in 2016.
Construction work has begun on a £32m anaerobic digestion (AD) plant in Dagenham, Essex, which once completed will inject enough green gas into the national grid to power more than 10,000 homes across the region. ReFood – one of the UK’s largest waste recyclers – broke ground on the plant late last week. Once up and running ReFood Dagenham will be able to recycle 160,000 tonnes of food waste every year, generating more than 2,000 metres cubed per hour of methane gas that will be fed directly into the grid. The food waste will be collected across London and the South East.
Most farms have outlying barns and sheds where there’s no mains power. That’s no problem in the daytime, but no fun if you have to rely on a torch after dark. However, Berkshire firm Bright Spark Solar reckons it has the answer with its latest 44-LED solar-powered floodlight. The lithium-ion battery is fully charged after nine hours of bright sunlight, it says, which then gives five nights of light from the low-wattage LED floodlight.
Almost two thirds of biomethane FiT applicants miss out on latest wave of feed-in tariff incentives thanks to funding cap A new cap on deployment of anaerobic digestion (AD) plants under the feed-in tariff (FiT) incentive scheme was hit within 15 minutes of the scheme opening for applications, Ofgem data released on Friday has shown. The 5.8MW cap was reached just quarter of an hour after it opened at midnight on Monday 8th February, meaning around two thirds of projects applying for incentives will miss out on the scheme. With the current cap period lasting until the end of March, those developers who did not submit their application within 15 minutes of the scheme opening will now have to wait until capacity becomes available during the next quarter. They will also face reduced tariffs as a result of missing out on the latest wave of FiT awards, according to industry body the Anaerobic Digestion and Bioresources Association (ADBA).
United Utilities (UU) has announced plans to inject green gas directly into the grid at its Davyhulme wastewater treatment plant in Trafford. The sludge digestion centre at the plant currently produces biogas which is used in a combined heat and power plant to generate electricity. However, UU now wants to introduce a process that cleans the biogas to produce green gas which can be injected directly into the grid. The scheme should be up and running, with gas going into supply, this spring. UU will lay a new gas pipe which will connect into an existing gas network near Trafford Retail Park. Meanwhile, at the treatment works itself, a cleaning plant is being built to make sure the biogas is pure enough to be injected into the gas grid.
Renewables – promoted so vigorously to the rural sector as a land of opportunity and social responsibility – have lost much of their gloss, not least because of rates for Feed-in Tariffs (FiTs) for solar and onshore wind being slashed, degression across Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) rates for biomass, and the end of the Green Deal. So, is the show over for on-farm renewables? ‘No’ is the qualified answer here from Shirley Mathieson, Head of Renewables at accountants Saffery Champness, in her sector-by-sector renewables summary. Despite aggressive Government cuts there remains some opportunities for investment in the renewables sector. Support is fluid and decisions concerning the sector remain open to change. With target UK climate change obligations to meet, this could mean further opportunities arising particularly where new technologies are involved.
In the days of Thomas Hardy, west country folk used to head to the moors and commons to cut the furze (or gorse) for kindling. More than 100 years on, a project has been launched to harvest another crop to keep the home fires burning. Backed with public money, a company has been formed to harvest bracken to create briquettes that it claims burn longer and more fiercely than oak in fireplaces and stoves. In addition, they argue that they are helping control a fast-growing plant that can choke other flora, thus helping to increase biodiversity. Said to be the first time ever that a biomass fuel has been created out of bracken on a commercial scale, the project has won the support of dairy farmer – and Glastonbury founder – Michael Eavis.
Green energy supplier Ecotricity will develop its third Green Gas Mill in Somerset, the company announced yesterday. The 3MW thermal site will generate carbon neutral gas for the national grid from the anaerobic digestion (AD) of grass and is anticipated to deliver enough energy to power up to 2,500 homes. The company said the new mill will use locally-sourced grass from non-food producing land, while also delivering a natural fertiliser for local farmers. “Making green gas from grass doesn’t compete with food production, it actually supports it and the farmers working the land,” Vince added. “It also helps wildlife, creating new habitats – and there’s enough non-food producing farmland in Britain in principle to meet 95 per cent of the gas we need this way.”