Northern Gas Networks (NGN) and IGEM today hosted the Gas to Cash Conference in York to explore how farmers can make money from their existing operations by producing biomethane for injection into the natural gas network. The event was attended by more than 140 representatives from the farming community, along with members of the biomethane industry, who heard from experts giving advice on planning and project management, grants, funding and licensing needed to exploit the commercial opportunities in biomethane.
The event follows on from an NGN commissioned report that the UK’s farmers are currently missing out on the opportunity to produce gas from suitable organic products and inject it into the country’s natural gas grid for large returns.
“An entry-level anaerobic digestion (AD) plant would be looking to earn in the region of £24 million over 20 years, and farms that developed larger plants could earn exponentially more than that," Rob Heap, of Rob Heap Consulting, who carried out the research, said. “Given the right conditions, it wouldn’t be difficult to double or even triple that amount.”
“It depends on the style and type of farming, but all farms have one or more of the necessary products needed for biogas production," he added. "For example, a dairy, pig or poultry farmer might have slurry and manure, but no energy crops. If a group of farmers got together, they would have a good chance of developing a very attractive business”.
This new study, presented at the event has shown that hundreds of sites in Yorkshire, Cumbria and the North East alone are currently producing the appropriate feedstock necessary for biogas production. Even though many of these sites are very low volume producers and are situated in remote rural locations or are using alternative methods of waste recycling, the study has shown these farms could still contribute to the gas grid and stand to make huge returns by partnering up with neighbouring farms and forming regional alliances.
Mark Horsely, Chief Executive of NGN, stated that they are committed to supporting the growth of biomethane production in its area, and is "genuinely excited" that this conference is bringing all the pieces of the supply chain together and "joining the dots" together to make something happen.