Biomethane to Grid

Biomethane injection into the gas grid.

On 21st November 2012, HRH the Prince of Wales officially opened the UK's first commercial Biomethane to Grid plant in Poundbury, Dorset. During his speech The Prince said how proud he was of how the Poundbury plant is "kick-starting the anaerobic digestion sector in this country."

Having completed the initial feasibility study and provided engineering support throughout the project, CNG Services Ltd MD John Baldwin and three other members of the CSL team were delighted to be invited to the opening.

MD John Baldwin meeting Prince Charles

The plant is owned by a joint venture between the Duchy of Cornwall and a group of its tenants ("JV Energen"). The anaerobic digesters convert organic matter, which includes potato waste, into biogas that is upgraded into biomethane and injected into the Southern Gas Networks (SGN) gas grid. There is also a small on-site CHP plant that provides heat and electricity for the digestion process. The energy utilisation is highly efficient, almost certainly the most energy efficient AD plant in the UK.

Scotia Gas Networks, which runs Southern Gas Networks - responsible for the local gas distribution network - was contacted by JV Energen to clean up the biogas produced by the AD and then inject the resulting biomethane directly into the gas network. The biogas is upgraded using an innovative membrane technology that is the first of its type in Europe offering a high level of efficiency.

CNG Services Role

  1. Completed initial feasibility study and created the development concept, identifying the DMT technology as appropriate for the project
  2. Provided engineering support to SGN including design integration services
  3. Supported JVE in relation to the RHI application and biomethane sales

John said:

"We started campaigning for biomethane to be rewarded with a renewable support regime in 2006 and it is great to see the UK's first commercial biomethane to grid project operating. Congratulations to the developers JV Energen, the Duchy and SGN, all have done an excellent job and can be rightly proud of helping the UK take a big step towards meeting renewable energy targets. This project will be a hard one to beat!"

Media Coverage

Transcript of the Prince of Wales' Speech

Ladies and gentlemen, I must say it is an exciting and encouraging day because I've been rather badgering the Duchy and others over the years that we needed to find a way of kick starting the anaerobic digestion sector in this country.

Of course as we have quite a lot of you here today from the continent you no doubt realise that in Germany and the Netherlands and elsewhere they seem to have got much further ahead on this front. So I'm particularly pleased and proud that we've been able to today launch this remarkable engineering feat, of the first gas-to-grid operation, which I thought was just in the UK but I've been reliably informed just now that in fact its the first almost anywhere, which is another very encouraging part of this.

What I really wanted to do today above all else was to thank so many of you here who've been playing such a very important part in ensuring that this project could actually get off the ground. I know so many have worked tirelessly, the Duchy of Cornwall team, who have been remarkable I think, J V Energen, all the farmers in the area who saw the point and got together on this exercise, Scotia Gas Networks, all the local businesses and tradesmen, the builders, electricians, engineering companies, all of whom have played such an important part.

If I may say so, I'm particularly pleased that we have the local community and local businesses involved. Two Poundbury-based businesses, Dorset Cereals and House of Dorchester Chocolate Factory, I've just seen somebody bearing buckets of their chocolate as I walked into the tent, are supplying us with waste - slightly worrying how much there is of it! - for use in the AD plant. As does Express Potatoes from Weymouth, and I'm told that potatoes are particularly useful for the plant. So we hope more waste will follow from other sources in due course. This seems to me to be of enormous importance because all this will make such a huge difference reducing the levels of waste sent to landfill, something I've never been able to stand over the years. And the plant will produce a net carbon saving of around 4,435 tonnes of CO2 equivalent emissions every year.

Of course the great thing about the whole AD process and one of the reasons I have been so enthusiastic about it is that it is a completely virtuous circle - so you end up with a digestate (a fertiliser) at the end of the process. When we were first looking at Poundbury 25 years ago I remember wanting to try and see if we could, then, start something like this related to human sewage but I'm afraid I was 25 years too early. So I'm thrilled this is another element that is being looked at properly now in this country, as far as the immense potential there is for fulfilling quite a large proportion of this country's energy needs.

Ladies and gentlemen I am so pleased that this has all finally been possible here and that we are now feeding gas into the grid with Scotia Gas Networks. I am looking forward to the fact that it will help provide so many households with energy and heat in the years to come. Thank you, all of you, for the enormously important role you've played in this new operation here.

c/o Rosaline Hulse