Half Britain’s homes could be heated by renewable gas, says National Grid


Up to half the country’s domestic gas heating could be met by turning waste into biogas, according to a new report from National Grid.

Biogas could give the UK a new reliable source of green energy as the North Sea gas reserves run down.

The report looks at how all the biodegradable waste streams such as sewage, food and wood could be turned into biogas and injected into the gas distribution system.  

At the moment there is a small quantity of production of biogas in the UK coming from landfill and sewage plants, but it is being used to generate electricity.  However, National Grid says these valuable waste resources could be used be used more efficiently. Turning them into biomethane could meet half the country’s domestic gas needs and help achieve renewable energy targets for 2020.

Biogas is produced by two main processes:  anaerobic digestion which turns wet waste such as sewage and animal manure into biomethane, and gasification which is better suited to drier wastes and energy crops. Biomethane is already being produced and injected into gas grids in Europe.

“Biogas has tremendous potential for delivering large scale renewable heat for the UK but it will require Government commitment to a comprehensive waste policy and the right commercial incentives,” said Janine Freeman, head of National Grid’s Sustainable Gas Group.

“Biogas has benefits on so many fronts.  It is renewable and could help to meet the target of 15% of all our energy coming from renewable sources by 2020.  It provides a solution for what to do with our waste with the decline in landfill capacity and it would help the UK with a secure supply of gas as North Sea sources run down,” she said.

In cost terms, it is estimated that biogas would be a similar price to other renewable energy sources.  However, because the country already has an extensive gas grid, there would be little need for disruptive infrastructure development or any major inconvenience to consumers in their homes or in their streets. 

The report concludes that there are no insurmountable technical difficulties to delivering biogas.  The main hurdle will be about getting the right commercial incentives in place so waste can be turned into biomethane for gas grid injection rather than electricity. This needs to be allied with a comprehensive waste management policy.

National Grid, who commissioned Ernst and Young to provide the analysis, has now handed the report to Ed Miliband, Minister for Energy and Climate Change. 

Click here for the full report.


For further media information only, please contact Isobel Rowley, National Grid Media Relations, on 01926 655275 or 07917 211 116

Notes to Editors

National Grid
National Grid is an international electricity and gas company and one of the largest investor-owned energy companies in the world. We play a vital role in delivering gas and electricity to millions of people across Great Britain and northeastern US in an efficient, reliable and safe manner. We believe the power of action can play a major role in safeguarding our global environment for future generations and tackling the effects of climate change, providing all our customers with the highest standards of service through network investment and through our talented, diverse workforce.

National Grid owns the high-voltage electricity transmission network in England and Wales and operates the system across Great Britain. It also owns and operates the high pressure gas transmission system in Britain and its distribution business delivers gas to 11 million homes and businesses.

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