Anti-frackers open can of worms for biomethane industry

Whoopsie-daisy. Frack Free Ryedale and the disgraced law firm Leigh Day (one of those involved in bringing false claims against British soldiers that had served in Iraq) have just opened a can of worms for the biomethane industry.


They’ve written to the Energy Secretary, Greg Clark, telling him that they’ll launch legal action if he gives Third Energy consent to frack its KM8 well because - they say - the gas they find is likely to contain Hydrogen Sulphide (H2S) and that the pipeline that will carry it to Third’s Knapton Generating Station is unfit for that.

They demand that something called the “precautionary principle” be applied.

The trouble is, H2S is also produced by rotting food and farm slurry in a process widely used to make biomethane, a form of “green gas” that environmentalists say could help to displace fossil gas in home heating and HGV transport fuel.

If you Google “biomethane + H2S” you’ll find loads of hits talking about techniques to remove H2S from biomethane using scrubbers and other techniques.

So, on the one hand, you’ve got campaigners saying that gas encountered by Third Energy MAY contain H2S and that it therefore shouldn’t be allowed to frack; and on the other hand, you have biomethane facilities producing gas that DOES contain H2S.

Thinking they’re being clever, Frack Free Ryedale and Leigh Day have actually just unwittingly introduced an argument for not building any more biomethane capacity.

That’s a problem because it’s part of the Government’s plans to meet the emissions and renewable energy targets in the Climate Change Act 2008, and strategies like this designed to help. 

Frack Free Ryedale and Leigh Day haven’t really thought this through, have they? In their eagerness to try and pull a rabbit out of the hat to stop Third Energy, they’ve just created an obstacle to further growth in renewable biomethane production because Greg Clark surely can’t say no to fracking without also saying no to biomethane.

Considering they’re always telling us we need to forget fracking and get behind renewables, this is a real faux pas. With friends like these, who needs enemies?...

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  • Mark Tebbutt
    Biogas can’t scale to replace fossil fuel gas use in heating and power generation. Thus what limited biogas can be sustainability produced should be used for the limited power generation needed to back up renewable power generation.

    As you pointed out fossil fuel gas combustion needs to reduce significantly by 2030 and be almost eliminated by 2050 to meet the UK 4th & 5th legally binding carbon budgets. Thus fracking for new sources of fossil fuel gas makes no economic sense unless you are gambling on the UK government deliberately missing the carbon budgets.

    As highlighted by this new study.

    • Gas unlikely to act as a cost-effective ‘bridge’ to a decarbonised UK energy system.

    •Decarbonisation goals mean a limited role for unabated gas generation after 2030.

    •Without CCS, gas use in 2050 would fall to 10% of 2010 levels.

    Full study available on this link