A consortium led by waste to energy company Advanced Plasma Power (APP) is one of six consortia to have been shortlisted for funding for a transport fuels demonstrator using non-food biomass.
Other members of the consortium include National Grid, Progressive Energy and CNG Services. The £25 million Advanced Biofuels Demonstration Competition has been launched by the Department for Transport to develop a scaled up demonstrator for the production of transport fuels from non-food waste biomass. This in turn will represent a significant step towards the UK’s target of 10 percent renewable transport fuels by 2020 as well as the advanced biofuels target currently under discussion in the European Parliament.
The APP-led consortium is bidding for funding for the construction of a plant that will use residual waste biomass to produce more than one million kilograms per annum of compressed biomethane, a low carbon fuel for heavy goods and passenger vehicles. The process will exploit residual waste, currently the UK’s largest source of sustainable biomass, to develop a fuel that can be used interchangeably with natural gas.
Gas powered vehicles already offer significant potential for carbon and other emissions reductions over their diesel counterparts and are well placed to achieve widespread adoption in the UK’s transport sector for several reasons. First, they require only very little investment in infrastructure in order to realise the commercial and environmental benefits. Secondly, other options for substantial emission reductions in this sector are limited.
Existing diesel vehicles can be readily converted to use natural gas on a dual-fuel basis and new, highly efficient dedicated gas powered vehicles, at comparable prices to diesel vehicles, are entering the market. Many transport operators such as Stagecoach, John Lewis and Howard Tenens have already begun the evolution to gas powered vehicles. If successful, APP will begin construction in 2016 and the plant will commence operations in 2017.
“The generation of biomethane from abundant waste resources offers significant potential for further emission reductions augmenting the already compelling environmental and commercial case for shifting to gas powered vehicles” said Rolf Stein, chief executive of Advanced Plasma Power. “Our seven years of operating experience and the results of test work at the current plant in Swindon give us a high degree of confidence in our solution and that the plant can be delivered on time and on budget.”
David Parkin Head of Network Strategy in National Grid’s Gas Distribution business added that the project represents a great opportunity to provide a practical low carbon solution that will add real value for customers. BioSNG will be injected into the UK’s existing gas distribution infrastructure, thereby presenting a low carbon solution without any disruption to end users.
APP has developed the Gasplasma process, a clean, modular and scalable advanced waste to energy and fuels technology which will deliver high efficiencies whilst minimising visual and environmental impact. The process combines two well-established technologies – gasification and plasma treatment, both of which have decades of proven commercial operation.