New Green Jack New Green Jack

77 responses to “‘Green Gas’ is here”

    • Jeffrey Lam

      How very interesting! What an exciting development! But… How is this money being raised? I’m just a little concerned that you’re going to float ecotricity or something…

      I thought you would build more wind turbines with it, I didn’t realise you could build gasmills…

      Does everything add up similarly? I see we can only achieve 50% FMD in theory rather than 300-400%. Is there really no premium too? I mean, does making gas with AD cost roughly the same as importing it? And/or has the rising cost of gas made it viable? Are you confident that BG won’t drop gas prices in the short term? (I guess they probably won’t)

      Anyway, I hope it works out.

      Best regards
      Jeff

        • dale Vince

          Hi Jeff, we’re def not going to be floating ecotricity, fear not – that’s still top of my’ last things I’d ever do’ list.

          The money to build these gasmills will come from the gas bills – which is a new source of revenue for us – so the selling of gas will pay for the making of green gas – as with our windmills.

          The 50% projection for the UK is based on a report published by the National Grid and looks only at AD sources. In time it might also be possible to make gas with next generation technology, using algae.

          I mentioned 50% FMD for ecotricity just because that’s roughly what we have now in green electricity and it seemed useful to explore what that might look like (and cost). 50% FMD is not our target, it’s just where we are in electricity right now.

          Not sure which 50% you’re referring to so thought I;d cover them both…:)

          Green gas does cost more to make, as does it’s electricity cousin, but we can exist on smaller margins than the Big Six, we always have.

          Not worried about price antics from them – they have shareholders to keep happy…..

          Cheers.

            • Fact Check

              Anybody who makes it as far as page 4 of the National Grid report will see that their “strecth” starget is for 48% of domestic supply, or 18% of total supply. So your headline figure of 50% of the UK’s needs may be a misprepresentation of the study.

              It’s a lot, just not quite as much as the headline figure, and this may explain the discrepancy notice by Jeffrey Lam.

              Still, keep up the good work.

                • Jeffrey Lam

                  Hello Fact Check
                  I don’t see anything wrong with what you’re saying, except I never noticed any discrepancies anywhere. I was merely asking questions.

                  Best regards
                  Jeff

        • David Croxton

          The point about AD is energy extraction efficiency. AD is great for wet materials but you can obtain over 3 times as much from better systems. For instance, AD produces about 160 litres of a fuel oil (say diesel) from one tonne (DRY biomass), whereas we can produce over 500 litres, without emissions. (This is over 80% efficient)
          The advantage of biomass is LOCAL generation, and this could be syngas as suggested. Its not new. All these processes were largely developed in Germany and elsewhere yonks ago.
          We need to keep a sense of perspective. Biomass captures about 1% of the suns energy. The future IS solar, WHEN the cost comes down and the technology is refined.

    • juk

      You guys rock. Once you’ve fixed the UK, then can you start doing the same things elsewhere, please?

    • James

      Sounds good except the part about dual fuel discounts. This is a system that financially penalises people who don’t have gas. Ofwat has criticised the Big Six energy companies for the way they implement duel fuel discounts, so I’m not clear why you want to follow them. Your price matching pledge may have commercial advantages, but it really isn’t particularly green or fair to consumers. When will Ecotricity be bold enough to implement there own ethical pricing system rather than follow the bad practices of the Big Six?

        • dale Vince

          Hi James, I guess you can look at this two ways – are dual fuel price reductions a benefit to dual fuel users or a penalty to those that don’t have gas.

          There are some good reasons why I think it’s fair to offer a discount, for example it is cheaper to maintain one account with two fuels supplied than it is two accounts with a single fuel. And then there’s the fact that dual fuel customers are spending probably twice as much, that seems to be a fair reason for a small discount.

          It’s worth bearing in mind that some 90% of the UK is on the gas main and so can buy dual fuel if they choose.

          I don’t know what OFGEM criticised the Big Six for on this issue – but it might not have been the simple fact of a discount, do you know?

          Price matching makes green energy more accessible to more people, not everybody can and not everybody is willing to pay extra to go green. For green to become mainstream it’s pricing has to become more mainstream. That’s how we see it. It’s not about commercial advantage in fact if you think it through we’d have a bigger commercial advantage if we charged premiums – we’d make more money….

          We don’t lack boldness on this or any other front – price matching is the right thing to do.

          Cheers.

            • James

              Apologies, it wasn’t Ofwat but Ofgem. I’ve quickly found a couple of links through Google.

              From BBC News:
              http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/business/7784963.stm

              From Ofgem themselves. In particular see Proposal D on p.16
              http://tinyurl.com/ofgemdualfuel

              I’m personally not convinced by the price matching argument. It’s certainly not why I became an Ecotricity customer, because I knew I was paying a premium to join Ecotricity. The price matching promise doesn’t take account of any of the direct debit or electronic account discounts offered by the big energy companies, so that most people who visit price comparison sites will see that the Ecotricity price is significantly higher than the cheapest alternative supplier available to them.

              However, consumers doesn’t always chose the cheapest. This is true of wine, cars, clothes, houses and so on, so why should it be different for electricity. They want to buy products that carry status and suggest a lifestyle even if it means paying extra.

              After all, there are several million households that have never changed supplier. If price was the only issue, all these households would have changed by now. If they are not motivated to change supplier by price, perhaps they’d be motivated by style and attitude. Perhaps they’d choose ‘reassuringly expensive’ electricity. ‘Fairtrade’ has certainly been very successful in recent years with this type of marketing technique.

                • Tim Morto

                  Dual Fuel discounts

                  I am still with British Gas, for gas and ecotricity for electricity, but previously I had the dual fuel discount with BG. I think it came to £10 per year. My current BG price is £114 per month, so the discount is a drop in the ocean. More to the point in all the time I was on the dual fuel deal, I got seperate bills for electricity and gas along with extra mailings of all BG advertising. I can’t see how they made any savings at all.

                    • dale Vince

                      Hi Tim,

                      Dual Fuel discounts aren’t so big it’s true and there’s a bit of a myth that buying both together gets you the best deal you can get. It’s a Big Six perpetuated myth.

                      We’ll probably need to send you separate bills for gas and electricity, because it’s just too much info for one piece of paper – but we’ll def look to send both in one envelope and we wont ‘spam you’ with paper (never have never will)

                      Perhaps more importantly, we have this super new online system that should kick off early in the new year, enabling paperless billing, gas and electricity in one and much more.

                      I’m going to ask for volunteers from this community to road test it for us – been eight months in the development and it’s looking pretty good.

                      Cheers.

                    • Marie Coley

                      James – Just a socio-economic point about consumers ‘not always chosing the cheapest’. . .

                      Cars, clothes and houses (even wine) are highly socially visible luxury items. People pay a premium for these to get status symbols, designer labels and the upper class part of town. They will show off with posh wines to impress their guests.

                      Electricity and gas are low visibility generic commodities – people generally never want to pay more for these and will be VERY price sensitive. Only those with a genuine care for the environment will be prepared to pay more to ensure their supply is green. Dale is right to price match – we need as few barriers as possible so that people will make the switch.

                    • James

                      Marie – The point you make is important, but it’s also necessary to recognise that the ‘visibility’ and ‘individuality’ of brands is itself to a large extent a construct of the marketing. Relevant examples here would be 1) water, which is bottled and branded with all sorts of dubious claims about health benefits and improved taste, 2) ‘high performance’ alternatives to standard unleaded petrol, which are not visible but make certain types of people feel good and boast to their friends. Green electricity companies could learn marketing lessons from these types of product. But I’m just speculating; I’m sure the folks at Ecotricity have given this more thought than I have.

                • dale Vince

                  Hi James, I agree with you, price isn’t the biggest issue for a lot of people. But it is an issue for plenty of people, it can be an obstacle to making the switch.

                  After all the millions of people you refer to (who haven’t switched yet) have to make an effort to change (they have to do something and be bothered to) in our case we’re asking for the effort to join us – and for many people volunteering to pay more – or a lot more, than they are is an additional obstacle.

                  We manage to price match the standard tariffs of the Big Six in electricity (in their home regions) and still do what we do. In gas we reckon we can price match the Big One and make it work.

                  We don’t match all their discounts, which come and go and we know we’re not the cheapest in the market – we’re pegged though to the price that most people pay.

                  That is a powerful message, despite the fact that, as you say, many people are not so sensitive to price.

                  We also truly do want to supply ‘green for the price of brown’ – it’s one of our founding principles and I think a key to making green energy more mainstream.

                  Cheers.

    • Paul Mobbs

      OK, show me a report, or a reference, to demonstrate how you can get 50% of gas supply from anaerobic digestion. That’s way, way above any of the other projections of gas production from organic wastes in Britain.

      You’re not misleading people again are you? — like the Severn Barrage stopping fuel poverty issue?

        • dale Vince

          Hi Paul, I think you must have read my blog post a little too fast to take it all in. The link you’re asking for is in the text, click on it and it will take you to a report by the National Grid – you’ll find all the answers you need there.

          And maybe when you’ve got that straight you’ll want to come back and apologise for suggesting I’m misleading anyone….

          Cheers.

            • Paul Mobbs

              Yes, I read the report, but I thought I’d throw you some rope to illucidate some clarification.

              Whilst you say in the post above, “The UK has the potential to make 50% of it’s own gas needs from this process – Anaerobic Digestion (AD)”, what the report actually quotes is 48% of DOMESTIC gas, which is only 18% of the UK’s total gas supply. If you were to advertise on this basis I’m sure that the ASA would find plenty to chew on.

              To re-work the old WWII phrase, “Careless talk costs credibility”.

              What’s more, if you look at the terms of that report then the net energy gain/carbon savings are not directly proportionate because 45% of the total feedstock is “biodegradable waste”; that means paper, card etc., which is technically *down-cycling* not *re-cycling* because
              you’re lowing the quality of the resource (‘quality’ == ‘entropy’ == ecological impact). It would be interesting to do a detailed energy and carbon balance of the costs production, and certainly off-setting the costs of down-cycling materials, as it would probably knocks a large chunk out of the energy production and carbon saving
              figures due to the need to re-manufacture these materials (which is where the bulk of the life-cycle impact lies).

              The miscanthus contribution is interesting too — another 20% of the feedstock — because as yet there is no commercial scale method of turning cellulosic materials into methane at anything like descent levels of efficiency, and with an environmentally benign by-product (you may have heard recently that feed producers are rejecting the waste from ethanol production plants in the US because it’s laced with antibiotics from the process). Consequently it’s still far more efficient to burn miscanthus as a biofuel than digest it for giogas.

              So, with 65% of the feedstock in the report knocked out for technical reasons, I think you’ll find that the realistic level of production is more like the totals from other studies that quote only a few percent of national supply as the realistic level of production from AD.

              The difficulty I see is that this IS a possible option for local gas supply, but the way you’re presenting it blows the idea out of all sensible scale, and promotes idea that “green” is equivalent to “business as usual” — it’s not, and if you say it is then you clearly haven’t looked into the complexity of human ecology.

              [BTW, I’m still awaiting your reply to the report/letter I sent you at the beginning of the year in relation to the similar technical oversights on your Severn Barrage/fuel poverty scheme in relation to your technical oversights in that case]

                • Justin Noe

                  Paul,
                  I too was a little sceptical about Ecotricity supplying gas but I have to admit Dale has made a fantastic leap towards a truly green energy solution.
                  I don’t believe the figures are misleading, afterall Dale was always talking about domestic demand. It was never about industrial consumption.
                  This is all about giving up fossil fuels and not business as usual. In the interim we’ll need gas until we’ve created enough renewable energy for our needs. Biogas is no magic bullet but it does cover a lot of bases including our landfill problems. Essentially what would have been released as methane into the atmosphere (an even more powerful green house gas than carbon dioxide) will now help replace fossil fuel extraction. It’s a double whammy!
                  Of course it won’t solve all our woes but it’s heading in the right direction and as technology advances it may become unnecessary to use gas at all. Initially I was worried that Ecotricity was going to supply natural gas, to my mind this would have acheived nothing and taken us down the wrong path.
                  Why did I ever doubt you Dale? Ecotricity will be the only company to offer a real green alternative to energy production. You are true green pioneer. I’m sure others will look back and be kicking themselves for not making such brave choices.
                  I hope this venture will lead on to bigger and better things.

                    • dale Vince

                      Thank you Justin. I really appreciate what you say here. It means a lot to me. Cheers.

                • dale Vince

                  Hi Paul, you thought you’d throw me some rope – that’s nice. (and that was sarcasm)

                  You’ve obviously got plenty to offer on this subject and it’s welcome here, the problem is your predilection to personal insults – it’s getting in the way of actual debate on the issues.

                  Could I suggest perhaps that you stick to the issues, jump right in with what you know, that’s very welcome – but leave the mud slinging out.

                  I’m not here to deceive anyone. I’m here to kick big ideas around.

                  You’re right about the domestic gas use – that was what I was referring to and perhaps that wasn’t clear enough for everybody – so thank you for pointing that out.

                  But leaping straight to the conclusion that I’m out to mislead people (again as you say) that’s just demeans everything else you have to say.

                  Cheers.

                    • Bob

                      I think Paul is very guilty of a “good point badly made”.

                      He is probably right about the feedstock constraints though, and the major problem is that the UK simply does not have anything like enough bioresource to meet its energy requirements – it’s more like 10%. This means that the current practice of “diluting” the fossil content of existing energy value chains with renewables (the RTFO is the best example) is not going to be capable of delivering 2050.

                      We should aim to electrify everything that can sensibly be electrified (pick your own generation mix) and conserve limited bioresource for things that can’t be electrified or for when wind output is very low.

                    • dale Vince

                      I agree Bob, I think Paul does have some valid points to make here and I’m happy to hear them.

                      I think electrification of everything possible does make sense (as you say), absolutely, but there’s a role for green gas as a primary energy source and especially since it deals with a waste issue at the same time.

                      And then there’s green gas from algae…. one day.

                      Cheers.

                    • Damon Hart-Davis

                      It would be a terrible shame to not make use of a working energy transmission network already in place and running to most users of energy in the country!

                      The electricity grid has a capacity of ~80GW but the gas grid is much more than double that according to my sums on fingers and toes from when the gas alerts were being announced.

                      Rgds

                      Damon

            • Xena

              Again? I don’t remember Dale misleading anyone in the past tbh Paul!
              I think this is a fantastic step forward for Ecotricity and for green-stuff in general
              Well done Dale, keep going!

    • Martin Ashby

      Fantastic news!!

      At last we can buy biogas straight from the grid – what a first for the UK :-)

        • dale Vince

          Thanks Martin…..:)

    • Biff Vernon

      Good luck with the venture, Dale.
      I live off-(gas)grid and buy my gas in orange bottles. Will I be able to buy it from you in green bottles?

        • dale Vince

          Thanks Biff, no green bottle plans as yet, but it’s a nice idea and totally possible to do. Cheers.

    • MW

      Brilliant news, AD is the best way to turn degradable wastes into gas or controllable renewable electricity and create a high value natural fertilizer.

      We already have an infrastructure set up to supply gas around the country, and increasing amount of biomethane can be added to the current gas mix.

      We still need much higher standards of insulation to make the limit supply of biogas go further, and solar water heaters to reduce the requirements further.

      http://www.kombikraftwerk.de/index.php?id=27

      The Combined Renewable Energy Power Plant shows how, through joint control of small and decentralised plants, it is possible to provide reliable electricity in accordance with needs. The Combined Power Plant optimally combines the advantages of various renewable energy sources. Wind turbines and solar modules help generate electricity in accordance with how much wind and sun is available. Biogas and hydropower are used to make up the difference: they are converted into electricity as needed in order to balance out short-term fluctuations, or are temporarily stored. Technically, there is nothing preventing us from 100 per cent provision with renewables.

        • dale Vince

          I’m with you on this MW.

    • MW

      Paul, I attended your ‘less is a four letter word’ talk in Stroud a couple of years ago. It showed what a difficult situation the UK is in with regard to energy supplies, Coal reserves mostly used up, rapidly depleting North Sea oil and gas, ageing nuclear power stations and plants opted out from LCPD having to close in the near future. I am also sure that Dale is well aware of these issues hence the ‘post oil post carbon’ tagline.

      From a purely pragmatic POV we are a small, wet, windy country with high population density, temperate climate, gas infrastructure, existing nuclear sites and reasonably friendly, reasonably close neighbours but have exhausted most of our fossil fuel reserves. Based on this our energy policy should involve.

      Maximising energy efficiency of buildings and transport


      Expanding domestic renewables especially wind, pumped hydro, tidal, wave and biogas.

        • MW
            • Bob

              I would say that all of this stuff is coming, but a lot of “environmental” policies could fall victim to the current fad of legislating a target, and areas such as child poverty & schooling show us what a nonsense this is. Govt is clearly moving in the right direction, but the real debate is whether it’s fast enough, and with the right level of incentives, and whether they are considered affordable by the majority of the electorate.

              Looking at your suggestions one by one
              – EE of buildings: We already have CERT, Part L and CESP. We’re going to get CSH & CSB reaching zero carbon by 2016-2019. Govt has been consulting about how to deliver step change in EE deployment – the barriers are likely to be skills-related and the reluctance of people to invest in disruptive long-payback measures like solid wall insulation
              – EE of transport: EU regulation (130g/km) and intense industry competition are driving down emissions. Rail electrification of two intercity routes has been announced

              Renewables:
              When you say “domestic”, I am assuming you mean UK “domestic” and not residential “domestic” (I expect you’re read the report on small-scale wind by the ESt

              Wind: All very well, but we need to disabuse ourselves of the notion that a few 2MW turbines scattered about will deliver what we need. Actually what we need is massive economies of scale delivering very large on- and off-shore farms, and not “boutique” behaviour

              Pumped Hydro: I understand that UK has already accessed most of it’s hydro potential, but if I’m wrong then please point me at relevant evidence.

              Wave & Tidal: Not going to make a dent in 2020 as the technology isn’t yet mature and cost-competitive. Large scale roll out might start towards the end of the next decade

              Biogas: NG’s report is spectacularly optimistic (even they recognise this). For instance, most sewage biogas is already being used for boilers or CHP to reduce electricity/gas import. Also, the waste PFIs being let are tending towards mass burn incineration as it’s a technology that luddite wastecos are comfortable with. So the NG “stretch” figures are possible, but not by 2020, and will need an RHI on biomethane injection that incentivises this over use locally in CHP (so better than the equivalent of 2*ROC /MWh)

              CHP: UK is heading towards a power system of inflexible baseload and variable wind. Whilst CHP is attractive from the efficiency perspective, because they are heat-led, they don’t contribute to the flexibility that our power system will need, and CCS (*if* it works cost-effectively) won’t be economically applied to smaller CHP schemes.

    • D-unit

      Hi Dale,

      This is excellent news indeed. Bio and waste gas production has long been the missing part of the puzzle, especially with the current carbon factor for electricity making heat pumps less carbon efficient.

      Along with heat and electricity production, renewable fuels are the third side of the triangle, and with debate ongoing about the limited potential and additional problems of fuel crops, fuel from waste has got to be the way forward.

      Good luck!

        • dale Vince

          Thanks D-unit….:)

    • Chris

      Very glad to hear of this – we’ll be moving our gas to Ecotricity as soon as we can…

      But what are you you going to call the company now? Ecogacitiy??

        • dale Vince

          Hmm… Ecogasity, nice but probably not….:)

          Glad to hear you’ll be with us though Chris.

          Cheers.

    • Jonny

      Hello Dale,

      How much of the feedstock for the anaerobic digestion is likely to come from farm slurry?

      If used, this by-product of the livestock industry would have an increasing commercial value to Ecotricity’s venture as it progresses. It would also become a more important component of the meat and dairy industry business model in the future, as a result of demand from Ecotricity.

      If so, would vegans be able to buy gas from Ecotricity with a clear conscience?

      Sorry to bring up the whole “Can you be a meathead and a treehugger?” topic again – I couldn’t resist it!

      Best regards,

      Jonny.

        • Tim Morto

          Hi Jonny

          I think Dale covered this in his post on the Guardian Q and A where he said they wouldn’t be using slurry as that would support factory farming and that was a place he didn’t want to go. A bit like not wanting to build in peat bogs.

          Keep hugging the trees before they all blow away.

        • dale Vince

          Hi Jonny,

          no probs with the whole Meathead/Treehugger thing – it won’t go away any time soon I hope.

          As Tim says (below) we’re not planning to use farm waste for exactly the kind of reasons you have in mind here.

          These are lines that we won’t cross…….:)

          Cheers.

            • Jonny Holt

              Hello Dale,

              I think you are missing an opportunity to do even more good here. As you yourself say on http://www.ecotricity.co.uk/news/green-gas-from-ecotricity-is-go! “The waste from just six cows can produce enough energy to heat and light a house for a year.”

              As will be apparent from my input on the whole Meathead / Treehugger debate, I am no vegan, but I try – sometimes unsuccessfully – to respect the views of those who are. However, in this instance your valid desire to have nothing to do with the meat industry is preventing you from mitigating part of the problem it has created. I think this is a pity as you are otherwise in a position to help.

              Not only are you turning your back on a significant source of biomass but also on the potential to prevent the methane it contains from leaking into the atmosphere in an uncontrolled manner. Surely, judicious re-use of any available waste resource is good – even if it derives from an ethically unsound practice. It need not imply approval of the source activity and this “feedstock” can be phased out after a passage of time.

              From a moral perspective is it so different from selling electricity originating from coal or nuclear in the brown portion of Ecotricity’s fuel mix?

              Best regards,

              Jonny.

                • Xena

                  I have to agree with this tbh… if it’s a resource that can be used temporarily then it should be, as with fossil fuels. Surely it’s better to use this than to continue to use our ever depleting resources of natural gas?
                  I do understand Dale, that as a vegan you have vowed to have nothing to do with the meat/animal product industry. But if you could do some good by this then perhaps it’s worth some consideration?
                  As Jonny says, it’s something that could be phased out as more plant/landfill gasses are used.
                  Just my thoughts :o)

                • D-unit

                  I’ve got to agree with Jonny on this. I’m not a vegan either, so I can’t really be prescriptive, but to my mind waste is waste.

                  It would be nice, of course, if there was less of it, or if it wasn’t there at all, but while it is it seems a shame not to use it.

                  If in some way it does actually support factory farming, I guess that’s a different matter.

    • Adi

      Well done on the biogas!! I used to promote these plants in India years back (6 cows to a household and rural family sorted for light and cooking).

      In case its not covered already, it’d be good to get your stats ready for the methane vs. CO2 debate (potency difference as a greenhouse gas)

      Eg Soil Association and others still dont have clear message on the comparison between re-emitted CO2 from composting vs equivelant amount of COequivelant (methane) broken down anaerobically. With the potency difference as a greenhouse gas this debate needs to be clearer.

      Well done Dale -youve done it again. Biogas is a good one with the right applications of course
      Adi

        • dale Vince

          Thanks Adi.

          I’ve not looked into those stats but it seems obvious enough to me that organic stuff is better off Digested than Composted. Actually it’s possibly better of in Landfill than Compost, because at least there it gets ‘collected’ and on the whole doesn’t escape to the atmosphere.

          Cheers.

    • David hicks

      Great news about dual fuel
      I will be changing as soon as it is available.
      Maybe you could pretend to be British Gas
      as the ASA are not bothered about EDF pretending to be Green and British.
      They would not be bothered about you using British Gas in your adverts.
      Anyway the French may need our power when 1/3 of there Nuclear power Stations do not work because its too Hot in the summer
      Well done Dale.
      How about Solar power next.

    • dale Vince

      Thanks David, glad to hear you’ll be joining us in Green Gas.

      Hear what you say about the ASA, in theory that should give us more room on the British Gas front, but I wouldn’t count on it. In my experience of these things, decisions are rarely consistent.

      But I think we have a fair point anyway, I expect we’ll push things a little….:)

      Solar power is on our short term agenda. We’ve some good ideas on that front.

      Cheers.

    • Ruzena Svedelius

      Great news!
      I hope that you are going to produce biogas and biofertilisers in modern batch bioreactors by High Solids Anaerobic Digestion (HSAD). More efficient methods where you can see how much energy is in going in and how much is coming out from bioreactor have to be used.
      Most of present biogas facilities use wet systems that were designed about 100 years ago for processing of wastewater (degrading by rotting organic material) when water closets became popular. Over optimal water content (about 70% is optimum for microorganisms) means lower production – water is not convert to methane. Huge problems and costs case the wet sludge.
      Comment to
      1) “… as yet there is no commercial scale method of turning celluloses in renewable organic materials into methane at anything like descent levels of efficiency…”
      Mixture of various well shredded materials is to prefer because the second product – biofertilizer – is very important for cultivated soils. Cellulose and lignin are the building blocks in humus.
      2) Composting versus production of biogas and biofertilizers.
      During composting about 70% of weight disappears as carbon dioxide, water and also nitrogen and sulphur compounds. Compost has low fertilising value – only good as soil conditioner.
      During HSAD biogas is produced (methane + carbon dioxide + small amounts of other gases). Biofertilizer contains most of nitrogen and other plant nutrients, and also part of bioenergy that is necessary for soil organisms.
      3) “…the waste PFIs being let are tending towards mass burn incineration as it’s a technology that luddite wastecos are comfortable with.”
      Burning renewable organics in residues, waste, sewage sludge etc is not sustainable! Waste incinerators deliver heat and sometimes also electricity but pollute air and leave 200-250 kg toxic ash – pollute soil.
      Here citizens pay about €65 for incineration of one tone waste and about €120 for collection, transport and administration. For heat from one tone waste citizens pay about €135. How much citizens pay for the unhealthy environment in their health care bills?

        • dale Vince

          Thanks Ruzena – we’ll def take a look at HSAD. We’re undertaking a review of technology right now and looking for a pilot project.

          Cheers.

    • Micah B

      Natural Gas has a role as a bridge to cleaner future.
      Switching from standard electric heating (without heat pumps), with present standard electric production mix, to natural gas is carbon emission saving. Switching to compressed natural gas in vehicles is also is carbon saving.

      Part of the transition will be adding of biogas to gas mix. As well as possible of up to 20% hydrogen from low carbon emission sources. This is as valid to support as increasing mix of renewable sources in the electric mix as ecotricity has done.

      Schemes are in place to expand the gas network mainly to reduce fuel poverty but also to bring about carbon emission savings:
      http://www.northerngasnetworks.co.uk/cms/444.html

      This makes sense in the hear and now as not every one can move in a ‘zero carbon home’.

      Also of interest:

      The GET The Grand Energy Transition
      http://www.the-get.com/

    • Christopher Porter

      Hi,

      Doing a project on green gas and have to weigh up the pros and cons. What’s your view on environment sceptics who don’t believe in trying to find more economically friendly types of energy?

      Cheers
      Chris

        • paul

          Hi Christopher,

          Dale is pretty busy with Green Gas launch etc, hence the lack of replies from him on here recently….

          Here’s my two-pence for what it is worth, just thinking out loud – not delivering the company line ;-)

          It’s supply and demand, free market thing – ‘economical’ for who is the question. The oil and gas barons are currently pumping billions of dollars worth of stuff out of the ground every minute of every day, and their profits are set to keep rising even during peak oil… they will never make the same profits from reprocessing waste and other sensible, frugal measures.

          Simple as that in my mind.

          But the environment skeptic thing is much deeper than economics – or at least the economics is founded on something deeper. Mostly it’s just a personal philosophy of “take what you can, while you can and f*** the future and everyone else”.

          Paul

    • Dave

      Ins’t there an “elephant in the room” here? Burning gas, however it is come by, creates the greenhouse gas CO2. Unfortunatly I don’t think gas can be considered a ‘green’ energy to the same degree as electricity…

      Dave

        • D-unit

          Hi Dave,

          Good point. I think the answer is that decaying waste creates CO2 and methane anyway. Controlling that decay and burning the results allows us to get useful energy out of the cycle and get rid of the methane, which is also a greenhouse gas.

          If the material used in the digesters came originally from vegetation, then those plants have extracted the CO2 from the atmosphere in the first place, and the vegetation that replaces them will continue to do so.

            • Gary

              Dave

              Landfill creates mainly methane, as does AD as both break down the waste under anaerobic conditions. As methane is more potent a Greenhouse gas than Carbon Dioxide it’s better to burn the methane and release the CO2 than just release the CO2 to the atmosphere. This helps to recycle the carbon that was extracted from the atmosphere by a plant as it grows. It’s all part of the carbon cycle.

              Burning fossil fuels releases carbon that’s been trapped for millions of years, adding it to the natural carbon cycle and increasing atmospheric levels of CO2.

              So there is a definite difference between burning fossil gas from the North Sea and burning biogas from an AD plant.

              Composting, if done properly , creates CO2 as it’s an aerobic method of breaking stuff down. Downside is there’s no energy generation, just straight release of CO2 to the atmosphere as Dale pointed out above.

    • Anne

      Can I ask if you are planning new sites of your own, or are you teaming up with current or planned sites to get the gas from AD?

        • paul

          Hiya Anne,

          Hmm – both :)

          Just as when we started our electricity model 15 years ago, we’ll start mainly with ordinary ‘brown’ supplies of gas, putting a percentage of green gas from sources in Europe into that mix pretty soon, and then we’ll be re-investing the money from gas customers’ bills into building our own sources of New Green Gas.

          We’re now providing customers with 45.6% green electricity all from our own windmills. The aim with Green Gas will be – just like our electricity – to change where our energy comes from and improve Britain’s energy security for the future…

          Paul

    • Mat

      Is there a date set for the launch yet? Am moving house in teh enxt few weeks, but don’t want to be messing about changing suppliers several times. I am not currently with Ecotricity for practicality, but will certainly be moving over as soon as dual fuel is available.

        • paul

          Hi Mat,

          We are currently going through a phased launch, starting with our existing customers who registered their interest earlier on in the process.

          Once we have signed all of those up and everyone is happy with the service – we will then start rolling out to non-customers. If you haven’t registered your interest yet – it might be worth doing so that you can get in the queue.

          Can’t say how long it will be yet sorry, but we hope the timing works out for you with your move….

          Thanks
          Paul

    • Sue Golden

      Great news- sounds like good solid but ‘out of the box’ thinking-let me in please!

    • Ruth Blake

      Some people have mentioned not using gas at all at home and just using elctricity – could anyone give me some pointers in how to start making this transition? I have just bought a new house which has a pretty standard set up (i.e. gas boiler for hot water and heating) and want to be as green as possible but don’t have a lot of spare money!

      In the mean time, Dale – how long will it be before we can start buying our gas from ecotricity?

    • Ruth Blake

      Sorry Matt – I just read the last few messages and realised you’ve just answered my second question – i’ve already registered so look forward to hearing soon so i can make the switch! But i’m still keen to hear about how to reduce using gas in general :)

    • Derek

      Ruth

      The most economical and environmentally friendly heating using electricity is to install a heat pump.

      Air to air or air to water heat pumps are the cheapest to install and save digging the ground up for a ground source heat pump installation

      Lots of heat pump advice on http://www.worcester-bosch.co.uk

      I have this winter installed the Worcester bosch air to air heat pump but I might need to install a air to water heat pump for severe conditions.

    • Adi

      Hi

      The COP value of air to air heat pumps is best – Hitachi just brought out one claiming 6! The worceste Bosch one referred to is pretty good at about 4.5 (but remember this is a figure only at standard test conditions). With its blowing etc its not a nice form of heating for the bedroom ( I have one and its a bit annoying!)

      Air to air heat pumps wont heat your water!! For direct replacement of gas etc one would need an air to water or ground to water or water to water heat pump.

      Heat pumps (except air to air) are only really suitable for well insulated properties so if, for instance, a listed building prevents that, the the best environmental solution is to use a carbon neutral fuel like a pellet burner – maybe with wood chamber or Oil burner with biodiesel nozzle as choice.. All grown sustainably grown fuel being carbon neutral.

      Anyway the air to water is more like a COP of 3 and Ground more like 4 (for normal useage) … (meaning 1 kw of electric put into machine achieves 3 and 4 kW of heat output respectively). Hope that
      helps clarity.

      Price wise :Air to air heat pumps about 1/4 of cost of air to water (which will do all your heating and all your hot water) and ground source heat pumps .. you can add a couple more grand + ground works cost to bury tube (horizontally or down borehole if space limited)

      Adi

    • Adi

      Hi Dale/readers

      I just want to explain a previous question earlier on this long page…its a question about about Methane Verses CO2.

      I agree if one has some methane from landfill – may as well use it ..and of course I love the choice you are offering to customers.

      But, back to theory for a moment: if you have a fresh body of biomass.. one can choose to get energy from that biomass by numerous ways (There are numerous biofuels afterall – liquid, gaseus, solids – and many different types within each state besides) .

      1. What I’m keen to have clarified is that given a weight of biomass (assume correct Carbon to Nitrogen ratio etc) … if, for instance, an amount is simply dried and burnt to make energy and CO2…would the energy and greenhouse gas potency be greater, equal or smaller than if the same amount of biomass was anaerobically digested then burnt to make energy (given methane is more potent GHG) ?

      i.e. a comparison of greenhouse gas potency per kW energy made from 2 different methods.

      2. I dont get the chemistry.. does the methane reduce in its potency as a GHG when burnt – as it chemically changes or still more potent even then?

      The answer of course has a huge bearing on how the nation uses its limited biomass resources – especially when there are dedicated crops for energy

      I hope Ive explained the question better this time.. . does anyone have any answers to questions 1 and 2?

      Or do you know of any figures on this kind of comparison:
      specifically between combustion (Carbon dioxide) and anaerobic digestion (Methane) given an equal body of biomass as a starting point between the 2 processes?

      Adi

    • Alex Ross

      Apologies if I’ve missed it anywhere but when will we get details on pricing – e.g. dual fuel discount and so on?

      I looked at the BG duel fuel discounts and obviously they have several but I’m presuming it’s along the lines of their ‘standard’ discount.

      Would it not be possible to actually price match the British Gas standard duel fuel price, rather than just the discount? I’m guessing with such small margins it’s not possible?

      Anyway – this is excellent news and I’m just impatient to get cracking with it!

    • Sukes

      Just wanted to say that as from today, Ecotricity are going to supply my gas as well as my electricity! I’m so looking forward to no longer having to use one of the Big Six. It’s not just the eco aspect that drew me to Ecotrocity in the first place, it’s their great customer service. They treat you like a person, not a number.

        • Damon Hart-Davis

          Me too, in the next couple of days officially.

          Now I want to see that AD methane flowing in to match our cooking, etc! B^>

          Rgds

          Damon

    • Paul Adams

      Could someone please explain to me how gas is fed into the grid? Only I wandered if the whole gas grid was biogas, the calorific value of the gas would drop from say 39MJ/m3 (using natural gas) to say 23MJ/m3. Does this mean that consumers would need to use 1.7 times more gas? (i.e. 39/23)?

      I’d really like to be able to understand this. Is there a British Standard which dictates the CV at which gas is injected into the grid? My thought was that if the grid was 50% natural gas, 50% biogas, the overal CV of the grid would drop to about 31MJ/m3, which could mean that those 50% who were paying for natural gas were in effect subsidising the other 50% who were paying for biogas?

      I know this is only theoretical, but I’d like to understand this better please if anyone can explain.

      Thanks

        • paul

          Heya,

          Here’s an explanation from someone who knows a bit more about it than me – hope it helps…

          Biogas is a mixture of methane and impurities such as carbon dioxide which need to be removed before the gas can be injected into the grid. Your figures for biogas refer to the gas before clean up, once the impurities have been removed biomethane has a calorific value of 36.6MJ/mn3. At this stage an odorant is added to the gas along with a small amount (~4%)of propane to bring the calorific value up to match grid gas, around 38MJ/mn3.

          So no, don’t panic, nobody is going to notice any difference in the quality of gas coming through their pipes, the only change will be the quality of their gas supplier as everyone changes to Ecotricity :)

    • Petra Ernst-Gutierrez

      in answer to Paul, i read on the web today that they use compressors to bring the biogas, once stripped of its CO2 content up to the same calorific value as natural gas and then it can fed-in without reducing the calorific value.

      Germany, it seems, is a bit ahead in this, There are more than 4500 plants although only 30 of these currently feed their biogas anywhere outside their plant (and some of these feed to gas stations), most are farm size plants used to create electricity and heat for the farm. Apparently this started in the 1930s, amazing.
      I am a bit concerned about the scalability and speed with which these plants can be constructed. Only lat year the largest plant in the federal state of Hessia in Germany was constructed and according to the PR it produces 2.9million m3 biogas p.a. for about 1000 cutomers using raw material supplied by 20 farmers. It cost 6.5 million €. Are they throwing money at it or are these really this expensive? Currently they are constructing one in the east of Germany which will produce 15 mn m3, unfortunately no price tag on that one.

      So, Dale, I know small steps but we have to go them and all, but…where will be be in 2020 with this, do you think.? Here in Germany they are expecting 20% by then…seems huge to me given that it is currently less than 1%…
      when I looked for the UK figure I came across your announcement of the first one ever in the UK…

      Regards,
      Petra

    • Odell (Fuel Scientist)

      I have been following the debate of living within the “Ambient Energy Limit” for many years. Consequently National Grid’s January 2009 report titled, ‘The Potential For Renewable Gas In The UK’ has been an interesting addition.

      But the discrepancy that strikes me about this report is it’s timing. Specifically equating the potential to deliver bio-methane into the national grid in the year 2020 against 2008 gas consumption figures (pages 4 and 5 of the report for those who wish to delve deeper).

      Applying the legally binding decarbonisation obligations contained within the UK Climate Change Act 2008 (a 34% reduction by 2020 and an 80% reduction by 2050, against a 777.8 million tons of carbon dioxide equivalent baseline – UK emissons were 606.7 MtCO2e in 2008), then by 2020 National Grid’s ‘stretch’ scenario would in fact deliver the following:

      22.5% of total UK gas demand in 2020 (not 18%)
      62.2% of UK residential gas demand in 2020 (not 48%)

      Taking this line of reasoning to its natural conclusion would deliver the following:

      74.1% of total UK gas demand in 2050
      100% of UK residential gas demand in 2050

      Without investment in Green Gas by a foresighted energy company like Ecotricity, the UK will not capitalise on its own skills and resources.

      I therefore support Ecotricity’s aims – how many other energy companies can you name that have grasped the importance of supplying Green Gas?

    • Johan

      Green gas is nothing new. In india this is pretty common, using low cost technique to create biogas out of cow dung.
      Making large quantity of bio gas including the necessary cleaning processes is something that have been done in other European countries. For example in Sweden one municipality is heating its hospital from fermenting and creating bio gas from household waste, and this without creating a complex waste collection process. What would be interesting is how one can construct a small enough biogas production unit that can be incoporated into every house. That way my waste is recycled on site and I do not need to pay for the waste removal (and no need to buy compost for the garden) and get some if not all gas I need for heating my house!