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Biomethane used in transport will help UK to become green, trade body claims

The UK has the potential to increase its production of biomethane in the future and improve resource efficiency, according to a report published by the Renewable Energy Association (REA).

In the report, the trade body said that the UK could produce the equivalent of more than 45 liquified natural gas (LNG) by tankers' worth of biomethane, or 40 TWh, per year by 2035.

By the end of 2016 the country's biomethane industry will produce the equivalent of four LNG tankers worth of green gas yearly, the REA said.

Biomethane is chemically identical to methane, also known as natural gas. Biomethane is an upgraded form of biogas, which is produced through the anaerobic digestion of food and other biowastes.

If the industry growth to 2035 lives up to expectations, biomethane production could result in the UK being able to reduce its LNG imports by over 25% from 2014 levels, the REA said.

It recommends a mandatory collection of food waste as "a pragmatic, cost-effective policy" to back biomethane expansion.

The British biomethane industry was the fastest growing in the world in 2015, according to the report. By the end of last year, 50 projects were completed and another 15 are expected to be finished this year.

‘An exciting advance’

Clare Wenner, head of Renewable Transport Group, a sector group of the REA, said: “The use of renewable gaseous fuels in transport is an exciting advance that offers a cost-effective means of decarbonising transport, especially for trucks and other heavy goods vehicles which have few available decarbonisation options.

“Transport offers another outlet for low-carbon biomethane from waste and we remain committed to the prospect of using society’s wastes to build a more efficient economy.”

The REA also said that there was a great potential to use more renewable gaseous fuels such as biomethane in transport and called for policy changes in that respect.

The organisation’s report has been timed to coincide with UK Biomethane Day, where more than 300 individuals from industry, government, and academia have gathered in Birmingham, the West Midlands region of England, to plan for the industry’s future.