Data collated by the Anaerobic Digestion and Bioresources Association (ADBA) has shown that the volume of biomethane injected into the UK grid will more than quadruple by the end of 2014.

Following a meeting at the Energy Institute earlier this year, the UK’s four Gas Distribution Networks (GDNs) agreed to share information for ADBA to analyse.

The results show that, each year since 2011, the number of biomethane upgrading plants has doubled and the biomethane capacity has more than quadrupled in the last year alone.

There are now ten biomethane-to-grid plants, two of which are within the water sector, generating almost 1TWh – up from 0.16TWh last year. 

ADBA Chief Executive Charlotte Morton, reflected on the news, “From the biomethane capacity data across all of the UK’s Gas Distribution Networks, we have found that capacity has tripled year-on-year since 2011 and is set to quadruple this year. Today just ten biomethane plants have the capacity to generate almost 1TWh of gas, sufficient to heat around 50,000 homes each year, and the number of plants could still double over the next year.”

Morton added, “That two thirds of the industry’s potential is generated from human poo, food and farm wastes demonstrates just how valuable these resources are – and why we need separate food waste collections.”

Biogas value chain

As the world strives for a more diversified energy mix, renewable energies like biofuels and biogas are coming to the fore. Sustainability is driving the utilisation of natural resources such as biomass, the products and potential of which is unlocked through anaerobic digestion (AD).

“This is a business that is also coming to the fore for the industrial gases industry, with various examples of engagement in recent months and years…”

This is a business that is also coming to the fore for the industrial gases industry, with various examples of engagement in recent months and years.

A number of companies are involved in the design and manufacture of equipment for biogas upgrading (Chesterfield BioGas, Xebec Adsorption Inc., and Pentair Haffmans for example), diaphragm compression, biogas flow measurement (Sierra Instruments for example), and many other product areas.

Earlier this month, Air Liquide stepped up its presence in the biogas value chain with an agreement to acquire FordonsGas, a company that distributes CBG (Compressed BioGas) for the Swedish transportation market.

Air Liquide already supplies its gas liquefaction technologies to one of the world’s largest facilities for biogas production, in Sweden. The acquisition of FordonsGas is seen as another major step forward in the business, as affirmed by Francois Darchis, member of the Air Liquide Executive Committee supervising Innovation.

“This acquisition will constitute a major step for Air Liquide in the sustainable mobility sector. It will allow the group to be present across the biogas value chain, from the production of biomethane from organic and farm waste to purification, liquefaction and distribution,” he said. “For Air Liquide, it will also be an opportunity to better understand the new consumer usages of sustainable mobility, today through the distribution of biogas and tomorrow through the distribution of hydrogen energy.”

And in October (2014), Tecno Project Industriale (TPI) – the Italian leader in CO2 recovery plant – revealed it had signed a contract to supply a biogas upgrading plant in North Africa.

Moroccan company Sotrameg asked TPI to supply a system that, starting from 500 Nm3/h of biogas, is able to produce 300 Nm3/h of biomethane and 400 kg/h of CO2. Turning waste of sugar production into biogas allows Sotrameg to produce biomethane (for its own consumption or to inject into the national grid) and food grade CO2 (for beverage applications) on behalf of other companies of the Delta Holding Group.