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Is Green Gas Renewable? Energy policy, UK suppliers in 2018

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Green gas is a promising source of sustainable energy for the UK. There are two kinds of green gas and both are a renewable resource. Biogas can be refined into biomethane which is equal to natural gas but without the greenhouse gas emissions. Currently, Britain gets half of its supply from North and Irish sea gas fields and remainder comes from Norway or Russia mainly through pipelines but also by ship.

Green gas is 100% British and can lower reliance on natural gas imports which are vulnerable to price hikes and disruptions. Green gas can help make the UK energy independent in the future. Some British energy suppliers are starting to lead the way with green gas which is an incentive for increasing production, find out which ones below.

How are other countries solving their gas shortage?

Exporting Gas

Many European countries are investing in green gas production for their national energy mix and in some cases for the export market too. Learning and partnering with them may hold the key to improving Britain's energy independence and renewable energy production over the next decade.

  • The United Kingdom has more than 90 plants producing biomethane green gas for the national gas grid, according to a recent industry report. While this may not seem that impressive, it is worth noting that Britain has doubled the number of biogas plants since 2015. Increasing the number of biomethane-producing green gas plants is the only credible way of sustainably expanding energy capacity without having to resort to imported gas or depend on fracking.
  • Germany relies on its green gas capacity to generate 1.7% of its renewable electricity. While this number may seem small, it is significant because sustainable green gas is used to produce another kind of clean energy, electricity in this case. Additionally, 20% of fuel used by gas-powered green buses and lorries comes exclusively from sustainable green gas. Germany probably has the largest amount of green methane gas facilities in Europe, with almost 200 plants so far. This also allows them to export of green gas.
  • France has serious ambitions when it comes to green gas. They are aiming at producing biomethane green gas that can be easily distributed throughout the country. Many countries initially built their green gas facilities for biogas production which is generally only usable at the municipal level as combined heat and power, unlike biomethane. With 26 green gas plants currently online and a further 24 facilities slated for construction, France is investing heavily in sustainable gas production.
  • Sweden has built several large-scale green gas facilities that use forestry residues, dung, wastewater and food waste as biomass for biomethane production. The biomethane produced in these facilities will be sent directly to Sweden's national gas grid for use in heating, electricity production and transport. Sweden is looking to green gas as a way to meet stringent air quality and emission reduction deadlines as part of their energy policy.

Green Gas: Biogas and BiomethaneBiogas is primarily made up of methane and carbon dioxide. It is the product of organic matter, such as manure, breaking down. Biogas can already be used for heating and in certain vehicles without any further processing. The one drawback is that it cannot be directly mixed with natural gas. However, a biogas digester can refine biogas into Biomethane which has the same properties as natural gas meaning it can be added to existing gas supplies to meet rising energy consumption.

How do we make Green Gas?

Gas flame

There are three types of energy plants that can produce Green Gas. They all produce the same type of green gas but do so in different ways and may use different types of organic waste derived from agriculture and the process of decomposition.

  1. Anaerobic Ingestion removes oxygen from stored agricultural waste, such as manure, in its gas generation process. This is why you will often see these plants near farmland.
  2. Thermal Gasification plants primarily use wood chips, straw, and seaweed. These waste materials are heated to very high temperatures in order generate green biogas. Oxygen doesn't need to be removed with this method.
  3. Biomass Fermentation is a cutting-edge process used for ethanol and hydrogen production, both biofuels in themselves. The byproducts of this process can be used as biomass for either of the other two methods (anaerobic ingestion or thermal gasification).

Green Gas & Greenhouse GasesDon't get Green Gas mixed up with Greenhouse gases. Green Gas is an environmentally-friendly renewable energy source. Greenhouse gas is pollution caused by burning fossil fuels and using harmful chemicals. Greenhouse gases cause global warming and the destruction of the ozone layer. Green Gas is an alternative to fossil fuels that can help reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Green gas is made by reusing biomass waste, such as manure, bad crops, seaweed, and wood chips.

Who are the Green Gas suppliers in the UK?

Do you think green gas is the future? There is a growing number of UK electricity and gas providers who focus on providing green gas as part of their tariffs. Here are a few of them:

Good Energy
Good Energy sources 6% of its gas supply from green sources. Like other green energy companies, they compensate for the carbon emissions related to the remaining amount by investing in biogas and forest conservation efforts abroad.

Tonik Energy Information
Tonik Energy is a fast growing green energy provider, who is handily outperforming the Big Six on customer service. Tonik's goal is to halve their member's energy costs over the next four years while focussing on green gas and electricity. They offer tariff options that use 10% of green gas and offset the environmental impact of the remaining supply through investments in carbon emission reduction initiatives elsewhere.

Ovo Energy Reviews
Ovo Energy is an independent energy provider known not just for their focus on renewable gas and electricity but also for their topnotch customer service. For a monthly £5 charge, Ovo Energy pledges to make 50% of your gas supply green no matter how much you use. The remaining supply is made up of regular natural gas but Ovo pledges to fund environmental projects that offset equivalent amounts carbon emissions.

Ecotricity Logo
Ecotricity was the first energy supplier to make green gas available. They are currently able to guarantee that 12% of their supply comes from renewable sources. It is important to note that they are investing in green gas power stations to reach their 100% green gas goal. In the meantime, they are committed to ensuring that none of their current gas comes from fracking.

The British energy market is full of independent energy providers that charge a variety of energy prices. Here at Selectra, we can give you impartial advice and help you find the cheapest and best residential gas supplier for your needs. We can advise you on how to switch (it's much easier than you think!), how smart meters make that dreaded meter reading a thing of the past and how they help bring down bills. You always have a cool down period to change your mind so everything is always up to you.

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To get a quick and simple comparison between Ecotricity, Tonik Energy, Ovo Energy, Good Energy and the rest of the market, so you can decide if they are right for you, give Selectra a call on 01704 325069. If you’d like to get a better idea about what you’re likely to pay before you give us a ring, click here to see averages in each area of the UK.

What Makes Gas or Electricity Carbon Neutral?While many suppliers are waiting to reach their 100% Green Gas targets, they are offering customers the option to make their gas usage carbon neutral. They do this by buying carbon credits on your behalf. The idea is that in doing so they are investing in renewable infrastructure or environmental projects around the world that have the potential to offset or cancel out the greenhouse gases generated by the energy you consume.

Is Green Gas scalable?

Green Gas Growth

While green gas may not be getting the same usage numbers compared to other renewable energy sources, it is worth noting that it hasn't received the same long-term investment as wind turbines, hydropower, geothermal energy or photovoltaic solar power, up to now. However, seeing green gas (biogas or biomethane) as a direct competitor to other forms of renewable energy is missing the point entirely.

Green Gas has a major renewable ace up its sleeve when it comes to meeting energy demands during periods of fluctuation in supply from renewable sources. Solar and wind are all great sources of renewable electricity. However, power grids are designed to use electricity as it is being generated. Meaning that predicting how much is needed is crucial to generating the right amount: too little leads to outages and too much would overload the electricity grid. Green gas can be stored easily and efficiently in a way that currently electricity cannot. Therefore gas can easily act as a sustainable reserve when there is a shortfall in supply from other sources of renewable energy and then used as needed when there is no wind or not enough sun.

Green Gas Potential

Green gas also has another ace up its sleeve. It can be turned into liquefied natural gas (LNG) or compressed natural gas (CNG) which opens up more environmentally-friendly uses. Green gas, in its liquefied and compressed forms, can be used for heating homes and powering whole fleets of buses and dustbin lorries. So when green gas isn't needed to make up a shortfall in electricity supply it can still be really useful.

Did you know?Surplus electricity generated by wind power that would otherwise go to waste can be turned into green gas through electrolysis. That gas can be stored so when there isn't enough wind to power the turbines it can be sent to a gas-fired electricity plant to keep lights on.

Is Natural Gas renewable?

Natural gas, a fossil fuel, comes from plant and animal life that died millions of years ago. These organic remains decayed and became fossil fuels because of time passing and nature taking its course. The results of this million-year process are the fossil fuels, like natural gas and petrol, that are too prevalent today.

Green Gas Impact

Unfortunately, the continued use of fossil fuels causes global warming and damages our environment. They will inevitably run out and as they become scarce they can only skyrocket in cost. Unfortunately, natural gas is not renewable and undoubtedly part of the problem.

The good news is that when biogas is turned into biomethane it can perform just as well as natural gas. Therefore when green gas is injected into the grid it is actually shoring up the UK's diminishing non-renewable gas supplies. Ultimately, the question is how far are we willing to go to secure our gas supplies. When we make up our minds, we know the answer will be Green Gas.

Find the best energy supplier for your needs To get a quick and easy gas, electricity or dual fuel comparison with Selectra give us a call on 01704 325069 and we'll help you switch to the best energy company for you.