Ecotricity customers cooking on UK’s first Green Gas
British homeowners can now cook and heat with gas made from eco-friendly ‘composted’ organic waste, in a UK first from pioneering green energy company Ecotricity.
From May 2010, Ecotricity is the first energy company in the UK to include supplies of green biogas, made using a composting-like process known as Anaerobic Digestion (AD), in its gas tariff. The green gas is put into the grid, where it mixes with the ordinary ‘brown’ gas supply and is used by customers for heating and cooking in exactly the same way.
Ecotricity’s initial supply is made from sugar beets as a natural by-product of the sugar-making process. Green gas can be made from many different sources, and National Grid predicts that it could supply as much 50% of all Britain’s homes (1). British households throw away an estimated 8.3 million tonnes of food alone every year (2).
Ecotricity says it’s been “staggered by the response” from its existing electricity customers, with 2,500 already “flocking to sign up” since it was launched only two months ago. Ecotricity is planning to supply up to 10% biogas in its mix by the end of 2010, growing this figure year-on-year by investing the money from customers’ bills straight back into building more green gas plants.
One new customer is Julian Cheal from Bath, who said, “Our Ecotricity electricity bills are already helping to build more windmills, and we’ve wanted to do the same with our gas supply for a long time. So being able to make a big difference with our bills, and knowing the money isn’t going on excess profits or giant salaries, are the big reasons we switched. Now we know we’ll be helping to grow Britain’s amount of green gas supply as well."
Dale Vince, founder and MD of Ecotricity, said, “For the very first time, customers in Britain now have a choice of where their gas actually comes from - and where the money from their gas bill goes to.
“We can make green gas from waste that would otherwise be dumped in landfill, heating our homes with last month’s potato peelings and grass clippings. The technology is here, the gas pipelines are here, it just needs someone to step up and make it happen – we’re showing people that it can be done.
“North Sea supplies are running out fast, so we have to get more of our gas from regions like Russia and the Middle East – but so is every other country. Pretty soon this worldwide demand will outstrip supply. Green gas is a brilliant, simple answer to two big issues facing us all – energy and waste – which we can solve in the same single stroke.”
No green gas supplies are currently put into the UK grid. So the green gas for Ecotricity’s initial supplies is made in Holland, which is directly connected to the UK gas grid.
Making green gas using Anaerobic (oxygen-less) Digestion is a straightforward proven process, and has been used as long ago as 1895 to power gas street lamps in Exeter and Hampton. The leftover by-product is used as a nutrient-rich fertilizer.
As part of its ethical policy, Ecotricity has pledged that all of its green gas will come from existing organic waste sources that would otherwise be put into landfill, and will not include livestock waste or material from potentially damaging sources such as palm oil.
Ecotricity is a ‘not-for-dividend’ social enterprise with no shareholders to pay. Instead, it re-invests the money from customers’ bills back into building more new sources of renewable energy. In this way, it now supplies 40,000 customers from 51 windmills at 15 wind parks across the UK, which together save over 50,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions going into the atmosphere every year.
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Notes to Editors
1: National Grid/Ernst & Young report, February 2009.
2: WRAP (Waste Resources Action Programme)