Gaynor Hartnell, 15th December.

The last UK activity under the Biosurf project was a conference on “Biomethane as a Transport Fuel”, held on 14th December.  It was hosted at law firm Eversheds Sutherlands in London, and attended by 60 delegates.  The following themes were covered; the environmental benefits, experience of haulage fleet operators, the state of play with the roll out of filling stations, gas-fuelled GHV manufacturing issues, the availability of biomethane now and into the future, the best end uses for biomethane, the RTFC market and sustainability requirements. 

The audience was engaged and questions were coming thick and fast, right until the moment the conference concluded, and then continued over a glass of wine.

In summing up the event, Gaynor Hartnell said the following;

“It’s primarily in heavy goods vehicles that the real interest lies in the UK, and decarbonising this sector gives a real bang for the buck, given the disproportionate amount of miles and emissions it accounts for.

Developments are happening very fast, and driven by an increasing number of pioneers such as the John Lewis partnership.  For these players the sustainability credentials are important and the focus is on biomethane, but even running on fossil gas GHG savings are achieved as well as a host of other benefits (NOx, NO2, particulates and noise reductions).

So industry is driving the infrastructure change, and it can be rapid, it’s not disruptive and with the average turnover of HGVs, it does not lead to technological lock-in.  Once gas is injected into the network it is academic which end use the gas is assigned to, unless it leads to infrastructure change

We’ve clearly got to take some important players along with us, if the subject is to be done justice in DfT’s Road to Zero publication, and the REA will look to engage with the Committee on Climate Change and DfT in the forthcoming weeks.

It’s likely biomethane producers are going to be paying much more interest to the RTFO, given the current challenges of the Renewable Heat Incentive.  Biomethane from gasification is going to be given a particular boost as, possibly, will power-to-gas – depending on its status as a development fuel or not.

From my position as Head of Renewable Transport Fuels for the REA, the most pressing issue at present is getting the new RTFO onto the statute book.  If it’s not to become operational by mid April 2018 it becomes increasingly questionable when it will be implemented and some of the industry cannot afford to wait.

We’ve covered some operational issues relevant to biomethane operators claiming Renewable Transport Obligation Certificates, but it’s clear that the RTFO is complex and fundamentally different from the other financial instruments the sector is used to.  Coming to this cold, there is likely to be much that companies will not understand, and I feel the REA should run some teach-in sessions for both its biogas and its gasification and pyrolysis groups.  All in all there is much work to do for this emerging and very exciting sector”.