29 June 2021

  • Department for Transport issues new guidance on biomethane used for fuelling vehicles [1]
  • The Renewable Transport Fuel Association (RTFA) unites all biomethane refuelling providers on the need for more clarity in sourcing gas from the European Network
  • RTFA to publish a detailed Industry Code of Practice for its members to accompany the DfT guidance change [2] 
  • The new guidance clarifies the contractual approach to be used, as well as allowing “virtual reverse flow” enabling biomethane to be moved into GB from Northern Ireland and RoI.

Last September, the DfT initiated a discussion on amending its guidance on the mass balancing of biomethane and it became clear that further work was required to:

  • expand the options to reflect the realities of how gas is traded and transported in pipelines
  • to ensure that suppliers of gas and those that verify their applications for Renewable Transport Fuel Certificates have clarity on how mass balancing should be evidenced, and
  • to ensure that methods employed are not equivalent to a “book and claim” approach, which is explicitly ruled out under the Renewable Energy Directive

The mass balancing concept was evolved for liquid fuels,” explains Gaynor Hartnell, Chief executive of the RTFA.  “Mapping that principle over to gas, which can be transported in pipelines as well as ships, required further consideration.  We embarked on a process of exploring the detail and examining the range of approaches our members were taking.  Our objective was to bring greater transparency and ensure that all stakeholders involved were aware of which approaches would meet the DfT’s criteria.  The DfT was happy to work with us to take the time to ensure that the updated guidance was robust and comprehensive.”

The RTFA engaged the services of gas markets expert Sue Ellwood, in November last year.  Phase 1 of the work was completed, and the results presented to DfT in December.  Phase 2 was a joint DfT – RTFA project, culminating in the publication of updated guidance.  Industry participants included CNG Fuels, Gasrec, AirLiquide, BP and Decarbonise Fuels Limited.

Not all of the biomethane fuelling UK trucks originates in the UK.  Some is injected into the European gas distribution network and the new guidance clarifies that the gas must be transported (‘shipped’) to the UK and that virtual reverse flow may be used at points where it is allowed by the pipeline operator. It also clarifies how the mass balance for pipeline transport should be evidenced and the rules for other means of transport and LNG imports via LNG ship.

Gaynor Hartnell continued,

The proportion of UK-produced biomethane will increase thanks to more flexibility afforded by recent changes to legislation [3]. However, the option to source green gas from the European Network will remain important.  The new rules also enable biomethane to be supplied from Northern Ireland (and the Republic of Ireland), via the virtual reverse flow option.  The transitional arrangements will allow industry to benefit from the change now, whilst also giving ample time to make any changes necessary.

Biomethane is an important and growing fuel within the RTFO, and we welcome working with the DfT to ensure it continues play its role in decarbonising UK road transport.”


Notes for editors

[1]  The new guidance was sent to stakeholders earlier this week.

[2]  The Code of Practice document will be ready by the end of August and will be circulated to RTFA members for their use, and their suppliers’ use.

[3]  The added flexibility is described in Chapter 5 of the following guidance document from Ofgem:- https://www.ofgem.gov.uk/system/files/docs/2021/03/ndrhi_closure_document_0.pdf

The use of biomethane to fuel vehicles can achieve savings in the region of 85% and above.

For an explanation of the benefits of biomethane in transport visit the Gas Vehicle Network’s website. https://www.gvnetwork.co.uk/natural-gas/why-choose-gas-as-a-transport-fuel

For a map of the location of gas filling stations visit https://gasvehiclehub.org/

Renewable Transport Fuel Certificates are the certificates used to demonstrate compliance with the Renewable Transport Fuel Obligation (RTFO).  The RTFO requires suppliers of road fuel and fuel for non road mobile machinery to obtain an increasing percentage of their fuel from renewable sources.

RTFA members supplying biomethane:

CNG Fuels develops, owns, and operates CNG Refuelling infrastructure and sources 100% Renewable Biomethane or Bio-CNG for its stations.  It is rolling out a UK-wide network of reliable and convenient refuelling facilities to service customers’ vehicle fleets and their off-grid energy needs.  For more information see www.cngfuels.com

Gasrec sells liquified and compressed renewable biomethane through publicly accessible refuelling stations in strategic locations or bespoke CNG and LNG refuelling facilities that it designs and builds for its customers. It is supplied in its own gas-powered tankers that deliver LNG direct to stations and CNG is supplied via the grid or by tanker (known as L-CNG) where a grid connection is not available. For more information see www.gasrec.co.uk

Air Liquide both produces biomethane from organic waste at a network of anaerobic digestion facilities in the UK, and supplies it as a fuel for trucks and buses at a network of bio-LNG and bio-CNG fuelling stations. For more information see www.airliquide.com

Decarbonising Fuel Ltd works to decarbonise UK transport by generating a saving over fossil fuel using the RTFO scheme. It then passes on as much of the saving as it can to the transport user. For more information see www.decarbonisefuel.uk