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During 2020 the equivalent of almost 50,000 homes in the north of England were fuelled by the renewable gas biomethane, figures compiled by Northern Gas Networks (NGN) have revealed.

The amount of biomethane produced increased by almost 50 percent compared to 2019, meaning more homes than ever received renewable gas, with the amount of biomethane injected into the grid representing enough gas to serve the household needs of a town the size of Darlington.

The rise was due to an increase in the number of biomethane connections and NGN creating more flexibility in its network to accept greater quantities of biomethane.

In June last year, the UK committed to reaching Net Zero emissions by 2050. At the moment, around 85 percent of UK homes are connected to the gas grid, with domestic heat responsible for around 30 percent of our carbon dioxide emissions.

Biomethane is a renewable gas produced through anaerobic digestion and is a substitute for natural gas. Unlike natural gas, biomethane is carbon neutral and can therefore pay a vital role in helping to reduce emissions.

To produce biomethane, anaerobic digesters are fed with waste products such as sewage sludge or food waste. The material is left to break down naturally and in the absence of oxygen it creates biogas, which can be upgraded to biomethane and sold for injection into the gas grid.

NGN, the gas distributor for the north of England, arranges connections to its grid for biomethane producers.  As it is a direct substitute for the natural gas usually transported in gas pipes, biomethane can be injected to green the gas grid with a cleaner gas.

NGN first accepted biomethane into the gas grid in 2014 and since then the quantity of gas has increased year on year. In the last 18 months the number of biomethane producers connected to the grid has increased from to 10 to 17 which has boosted production.

Chris Hogg, Supply Strategy Lead for NGN, said: “We’re delighted to see such an upturn in biomethane injections into our grid, against the backdrop of the pandemic which has proved as challenging for our producers as it has for many other businesses. With injection points now at locations across our region including Durham, Leeds, Middlesbrough and Gateshead, we’re proud that more customers across our region will have received a cleaner source of gas during 2020. We’re confident that by working with producers we can increase production further in 2021.”

Biomethane is just one of the ways NGN is tackling the government’s challenging net zero carbon target. Through the flagship H21 project, along with its partners, the company is delivering evidence in support of using the gas network to transport hydrogen in the future as it produces no carbon when used.

In 2021, NGN will supply a 20 percent hydrogen blend to the community of Winlaton, Gateshead. This is the first time hydrogen will be supplied via a public gas network since town gas was phased out during the 1960s and, along with biomethane is a potential stepping stone to a carbon free gas network of the future.

To learn more about a biomethane gas connections visit https://biomethane.northerngasnetworks.co.uk/