Despite our electricity network getting greener, our gas system seems to be stuck in the past. Very few suppliers offer even a small amount of green gas as part of their gas mix and if they do, prices often skyrocket. In this post we take a look at how green gas is produced and why it may not be all it seems.
How green gas is made
It can come in a variety of forms such as landfill gas, synthetic natural gas (syngas) or, most commonly, anaerobic digestion gas. Anaerobic digestion happens when bacteria break organic material, often food waste or agricultural by-products, down without oxygen. The process produces methane and carbon dioxide. The carbon dioxide is removed so we’re left with the methane gas, called biomethane because of the way it was created. This biomethane is the green gas that’s used as a substitute for natural gas.
Problems with green gas
Green gas is considered carbon neutral since the plants used to make the gas absorbed the carbon in the first place, but technically a lot of carbon dioxide is released during the production cycle. Instead of producing crops for green gas it may be better to use the land space to grow trees and rewild, permanently removing greenhouse gases from the atmosphere.
Alternatives to green gas
Regardless of how we do it, we need to move away from using natural gas to heat our homes, water and food which poses a question about whether we need gas at all? We recently wrote a post about heat pumps which are an electrical alternative to traditional gas boilers so check that out for more about using electricity as a replacement for gas.
The second alternative to green gas is to use green hydrogen. Hydrogen can not only replace natural gas in homes but also petroleum and diesel in vehicles. Although this would require huge infrastructure changes it would give us access to a fuel whose only biproduct is water. The sole caveat to this is that producing the hydrogen (through a process called electrolysis that we talk about in our battery storage blog) requires electricity, so it is essential that this comes from green sources if the hydrogen is to be truly green.
Can I produce my own green gas?
Avoiding the strong temptation to make a joke about producing your own gas, the short answer is probably not. Green gas requires high tech facilities and constant upkeep, so unless you are very invested and have a lot to spend upfront you will probably struggle to make your own.
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