Quantification of methane emissions from UK biogas plants
The rising number of operational biogas plants in the UK brings a new emissions category to consider for methane monitoring, quantification and reduction. Minimising methane losses from biogas plants to the atmosphere is critical not only because of their contribution of methane to global warming but also with respect to the sustainability of renewable energy production. Mobile greenhouse gas surveys were conducted to detect plumes of methane emissions from the biogas plants in southern England that varied in their size, waste feed input materials and biogas utilization. Gaussian plume modelling was used to estimate total emissions of methane from ten biogas plants based on repeat passes through the plumes. Methane emission rates ranged from 0.1 to 58.7 kg CH4 hr-1, and the percentage of losses relative to the calculated production rate varied between 0.02 and 8.1%. The average emission rate was 15.9 kg CH4 hr-1, and the average loss was 3.7%. In general, methane emission rates from smaller farm biogas plants were higher than from larger food waste biogas plants. We also suggest that biogas methane emissions may account for between 0.4 and 3.8%, with an average being 1.9% of the total methane emissions in the UK excluding the sewage sludge biogas plants.
Authors: Bakkaloglu, S., Lowry, D., Fisher, R.E., France, J.L. ORCID record for J.L. France, Brunner, D., Chen, H., Nisbet, E.G.