A UK anaerobic digestion (AD) trade body has published an open letter to the Prime Minister (PM), calling for him to extend sanctions against Putin to Russian gas.

In the letter, Charlotte Morton, Chief Executive of Anaerobic Digestion and Biomethane Association (ADBA), states that boosting the production of biomethane could not only provide an additional layer of sanctions again Russian leader Vladimir Putin, but also strengthen the UK’s long-term energy and food security. 

The plea comes after UK PM Boris Johnson revealed that the UK will phase out imports of Russian oil by the end of 2022. 

With the ongoing Russia-Ukraine crisis causing price spikes in natural gas, the EU announced that it will double its ambition for biomethane production to 354TWh (terawatt hours) by 2030 to reduce reliance on Russian gas. 

Calling for the UK to follow this example, Morton added, “Biomethane from AD should be an integral part of the UK’s energy strategy.” 

“Last year, the UK imported 24.6TWh of natural gas from Russia. With immediate government backing, this gas demand could be directly replaced with home-grown biomethane within the next four years.” 

A biomethane production plant.

A biomethane production plant.

It’s estimated that, by 2030, the UK’s AD sector could deliver an estimated 55-76TWh of biomethane – more than two to three times the amount of the UK currently imports from Russia. 

In addition to helping ‘green’ the gas grid – responsible for 23% of total annual emissions – biomethane can boost the UK’s energy transition through its ability to convert to hydrogen and vice versa. 

“Together, they can deliver a net zero gas sector,” revealed Morton. 

“In fact, converting biomethane to green hydrogen can be net negative.” 

High energy prices and concurrent fertiliser shortages have caused warranted concerns over food security, compounded by Russia’s imposition of a six-month moratorium on the export of mineral fertiliser. 

Calling it a ‘ready replacement’, Morton explained that digestate, a by-product of biomethane production, could help alleviate mineral fertiliser shortages. 

Last year, persistent shutdowns of UK fertiliser production plants resulted in shortages of gaseous CO2 – a by-product of fertiliser production. 

According to ADBA, the current AD industry produces enough bio-CO2 to meet the UK’s entire industrial demand. 

Concluding the letter, Morton requested a meeting with the PM and Ministers to study measures that could help ramp up biomethane production as a replacement for Russian gas.