30 September 2016

As other options for decarbonising heating struggle to go to scale, green gas is receiving more focus.

The recent report from the Energy and Climate Change Committee on our 2020 renewable heat and transport targets states, “adding together unsatisfactory heat-pump performance, the seasonality of heat demand, and the limits of the electricity networks—which the government also intends to use for transport energy in the long term—it is clear that the government cannot rely on complete heat electrification. Bioenergy, a greener gas grid and district heating all have roles to play in this sector.”

A recent Energy Networks Association/KPMG paper discusses in detail the future of gas. The paper argues the cheapest scenario is the the evolution of the gas networks (see below), where hydrogen is made from natural gas and transported to homes using the existing gas network.  

ENA/KPMG report, 2016

The obvious challenge for the ‘evolution of gas’ case is decarbonisation. One partial answer could be the role of Anaerobic Digestion (AD) in greening the gas network. Regen recently held an AD forum in partnership with Stephens Scown, at Wyke Farm, Somerset. It was interesting to hear from Wales and West Utilities that they have a dedicated team to work on connecting biomethane. There are now at least 47 biomethane injection plants in the UK and this is set to increase.

At the moment the heat sector is in a state of policy uncertainty, with government responses on the RHI, Feed-in Tariff for AD (and micro-CHP), and the new £320 million Heat Network Investment Project, all expected imminently. A new heat strategy is also due, which gives the government an opportunity to set out its vision of the decarbonised heat system for 2050 and beyond.

It is clear this strategy will need to make best use of the gas and electricity network in order to deliver the decarbonisation of the heat system. Greening the gas network looks set to have a key role.  

If you would like to discuss Regen’s work on renewable heat further please get in contact.

Author: Olly Frankland

Contact: ofrankland@regensw.co.uk.