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'Green' gas supply for homeowners

Ecologist

22nd November, 2009

UK energy company promises to use gas from food waste and sewage to provide homes with 'green' gas supplies

Plenty of householders have signed up to green electricity tariffs, which promise to match your power consumption by feeding a corresponding amount of electricity from renewable sources into the grid.

But until recently, there has been no equivalent for gas supplies.

Now, an announcement by UK energy supplier Ecotricity looks set to change things.

From January onwards, Ecotricity will offer homeowners the opportunity to pay for a 'green gas' supply as well as green electricity.

Same pipes

Although the actual gas supplied to your home will remain the same, the company promises to feed a certain amount of methane generated from renewable sources - such as the anaerobic digestion of food waste - into the gas grid to compensate.

Initially, the gas purchased by Ecotricity on customers' behalf will come from conventional, 'brown' sources. As more sources of renewable gas become available to the grid, the company promises to increase the proportion of 'green' gas available to customers, eventually up to 100 per cent.

Founder of Ecotricity, Dale Vince, said:
'People can now have complete control of where the money they spend on their energy bills goes, and ultimately where their energy will come from. Nobody has to carry on giving their money to the big multinational energy companies, who seem determined to keep burning whatever in the world they can get their hands on like there’s no tomorrow.

'By choosing green gas, customers can help unhook Britain from its addiction to foreign gas supplies, make a positive long-term change to the world we live in, and could also keep thousands of tonnes of waste out of landfill which could even help keep council tax bills down.'

Gas transition

Although gas has been produced using anaerobic digestion for decades, the current Government incentive scheme - which rewards electricity production over heat - has meant that much is immediately burnt on-site to create electricity.

In a report earlier this year, National Grid said that up to half of UK households could be powered by renewably generated gas, but added that incentives and support structures would have to change to bring about the transition.

Campaigners hope that the situation will change when the Government introduces its long-awaited 'Renewable Heat Incentive' - an extra payment for householders and businesses who generate heat without using fossil fuels - in 2011.

Other schemes

Ecotricity's new tariff is similar to one introduced by supply company Good Energy in November 2008.

Through its 'HotROCs' scheme, Good Energy promises to use money from customers' gas bills to subsidise other customers who have installed solar thermal panels for water heating.

The money acts as an incentive to encourage people to install solar thermal panels, and has helped make the technology more affordable  whilst homeowners await the roll-out of official Government support.

Juliet Davenport, founder and CEO of Good Energy said:
'The launch of our gas products has been really successful and we have increased our number of solar thermal generating customers to 270, each saving on average half a tonne of CO2.'

Davenport added that once the Government had published guidelines on the use of 'green' gas the company would look at following a siimilar model to Ecotricity, but at present believed that supporting solar generation was the best option.

Useful links
Ecotricity
Good Energy
National Grid biogas report

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