Anaerobic digestion (AD) produces biomethane that can be used as a low-cost, low-carbon transport fuel that is particularly suited to large vehicles such as buses, heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) and farm vehicles that are too heavy for electric batteries. Switching to running these vehicles on biomethane can reduce greenhouse gas emissions by between 60% and 80% compared to existing fossil-based fuels like gasoline and diesel. Biomethane vehicles also dramatically reduce nitrogen oxide emissions, thus playing a major role in improving air quality in towns and cities.
With over 80 AD plants already producing biomethane, the UK AD industry has sufficient capacity today to power 80% of the UK’s entire bus fleet. If all feedstocks went to AD, the UK could also potentially power 75% of all HGVs in the future . An increasing number of haulage, bus and coach companies are incorporating biomethane-fuelled vehicles into their fleets to reduce costs, noise and emissions. The Renewable Transport Fuel Obligation (RTFO) introduced by the UK government to incentivise the shift from fossil fuels to renewables in transport is expected to boost demand for biomethane in the UK in the coming years.
A similar trend is taking place in the rest of the world. Germany, Sweden, Switzerland and the US were the largest producers of biomethane for use in transport in 2016, alongside the UK. Governments have applied a combination of tax exemptions, investment subsidies, and incentives to influence the market, such as the Renewable Fuel Standard in the US. China, France, the UK and Scandinavian countries, in particular, have also strongly supported the transition to biomethane in their transport sector.