If like me you have grown up in the waste management and environment industries then the notion of a hierarchy of preference driving policy, regulation and funding in ensuring that the best environmental option is taken is not a new one.
However, the much vaunted Biogas sector seems rudderless in this respect. Another new report, post the national grid 50% of gas could be bio one, states that biogas could reduce total haulage vehicle emissions in the UK by two thirds:
HGV Emissions story
And from our vantage point as developers we’re dealing with clients who wish to deploy this hugely valuable, storable, transportable renewable product for a wide variety of beneficial uses such as drying, chilling, fuel cell technology, space heating, water heating, growing, etc.
The problem is that as wonderful and unique a resource as biogas is, it is constrained by a number of limiting factors such as space, location, feedstock, policy, regulation, funding etc and so even in the wildest dreams of developers like myself we can’t be a major contributor to the power, vehicle fuel AND gas grid. But (and I know location and project specifics will often shape the answer) what SHOULD we be focussing on IF we can choose any of the product uses? Where is the unified theory that is focussing policy?
Looking again at Germany they came up with a simple idea – reward better those plants which are more efficient – band them.
And so I think a simple hierarchy similar to the reduce, reuse, recycle, recover hierarchy in waste, allied with rewards that are greater the higher up the hierarchy one goes is very much overdue! (the only reference to anything similar is a consultation document relating to Best Available Technology for the PPC regs in Scotland!)
It would help developers focus on more financially and environmentally beneficial business models.
It would deter a plethora of small, electric only, gas engine AD plants popping up cheaply everywhere – and get the best bang for each tonne of our constrained feedstock
It would help Councils, planners and regulators make decisions
… and would be a clear statement of intent, that would avoid diverting much needed financial incentives away from good and into poorer AD schemes!