New data reveals how animal, crop and food waste can produce enough green gas to heat hundreds of thousands of homes

Cow-dung, food waste, and even sewage are capable of producing enough green gas to heat over 750,000 homes, according to a new analysis from the Energy Networks Association (ENA).

Published yesterday, the inaugural Green Gas Scoreboard, details how 109 biomethane or green gas production sites are now connected to the UK gas grid, and are producing enough biomethane to supply 770,654 homes. A further 23 production sites are in development across the country.

Biomenthane can be produced from a number of sources, including animal, crop, food waste, and sewage plants, and can then be injected into the grid or used to generate electricity, delivering significant emissions reductions compared to fossil gas.

“Homegrown, locally-produced green gas is a great way of reducing emissions from our heat and electricity production, especially when it comes to keeping Britain’s homes warm and lights on during the long, cold winter nights,” said David Smith, chief executive of the ENA.

“These figures show how cow-dung from our farms, left-over food from our restaurants and sewage from our water treatment plants have a huge role to play in reducing the carbon emissions from our towns, villages and communities, all whilst providing them with secure energy supplies.”

Food waste from processing sites and restaurants is producing enough biomethane to heat 200,000 homes, while crop waste is providing gas that could heat 150,000 homes, sewage plants are delivering biomethane for the equivalent of 130,000 homes, and farm waste is providing green gas for a further 83,000 homes, according to the scoreboard.

The update also details how 181 flexible generation gas power plants are now connected to the grid, which can provide electricity when output from local wind and solar farms is at low levels. A number of these power plants are also being converted to run on hydrogen under the ENA’s Gas Goes Green initiative, which aims to decarbonise the gas sector by converting the gas grid and power plants to run on either hydrogen or biomethane.

The plans are at the heart of a fierce lobbying battle, with the gas industry arguing that a switch to hydrogen could decarbonise the heating sector without the need for drastic changes to people’s homes, while others counter that using hydrogen to heat buildings is likely to prove hugely expensive and that electric heating technologies provide a better route for decarbonising many homes.

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