As the effects of climate change become more apparent businesses in the UK and around the rest of the world are increasingly turning to green gas sources to reduce their carbon footprint and meet sustainability goals. Two common options for businesses are carbon offsetting and green gas. As we’ll explain in more detail, carbon offsetting involves investing in projects that reduce or eliminate greenhouse gas emissions, while green gas involves using green gas sources such as biogas or synthetic methane.
Businesses can either produce their green gas or purchase it from renewable energy providers. By using green gas, businesses can reduce their dependence on fossil fuels and reduce their greenhouse gas emissions, which can improve their environmental reputation and reduce their carbon tax liabilities. However, the use of green gas can be more expensive than traditional fossil fuels. Nonetheless, as the demand for renewable energy grows, green gas will likely play an increasingly important role in the UK’s transition to a low-carbon economy.
Both carbon offsetting and green gas have their pros and cons, and it can be challenging for businesses to determine which approach is best for them. In this blog, we’ll explore different types of gas energy with pros and cons for using each type, and finally the differences between carbon offsetting and green gas, as well as government schemes for using green gases in the UK. With this information, your business will be able to make an informed decision on what type of gas energy is best for your business based on your circumstances and sustainability goals.
Types of Gas Energy
Fossil fuel gas, also known as natural gas, is a non-renewable energy source that is commonly used for heating, cooking and electricity generation. It is the most common type of energy, and fossil fuels currently supply about eighty per cent of the world’s energy.
One of the main advantages of fossil fuel gas is that it is a relatively clean-burning fuel that produces fewer greenhouse gas emissions than coal or oil. It also emits fewer pollutants such as sulphur dioxide and particulate matter, which can have negative health effects. Additionally, the infrastructure for producing, transporting, and using natural gas is already well established, making it a relatively cheap and accessible energy source.
However, the extraction and transportation of natural gas can cause environmental damage, including water and air pollution, and the fracking process used to extract natural gas has been linked to earthquakes in some areas around the world. There are also concerns about methane leaks during the production and transportation process, as methane is a potent greenhouse gas that contributes to climate change. Finally, as a non-renewable resource, natural gas will eventually run out, making it unsustainable as an energy source in the long term.
Brown Gas and Green Gas
Brown gas and green gas are two different types of alternative fuels that are gaining popularity as the global population seeks more environmentally friendly and sustainable energy sources.
Brown gas, also known as HHO gas, is a mixture of hydrogen and oxygen produced through the process of electrolysis. The process involves passing an electric current through water, which separates the hydrogen and oxygen molecules, creating a combustible gas that can be used as a fuel source.
Green gas, otherwise known as biomethane, is produced through a process called anaerobic digestion. This process involves the breakdown of organic materials, such as food and agricultural waste, in the absence of oxygen. As the materials decompose, they release a gas called biogas which is primarily composed of methane. The biogas is then purified and upgraded to a quality that can be injected into the gas grid and used like natural gas. This process not only produces a renewable form of energy but also diverts waste from landfills, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and promoting a more sustainable future.
One of the main advantages of brown gas is that it is easy to produce using readily available materials, such as water and electricity. It also burns cleanly, producing only water vapour and oxygen as by-products, making it an environmentally friendly alternative to fossil fuels. However, one major drawback of brown gas is that it requires a large amount of energy to produce, which can offset some of its environmental benefits.
Green gas, on the other hand, has several advantages as a fuel source. It is produced from organic waste materials, which means it is a renewable resource that can help reduce the amount of waste sent to landfills. It also produces fewer greenhouse gas emissions than traditional fossil fuels and is therefore considered a cleaner source of energy. However, the production of green gas requires a significant amount of infrastructure, such as anaerobic digesters and pipelines, which can be costly to build and maintain.
In summary, both brown gas and green gas have their advantages and disadvantages as alternative fuel sources. Brown gas is easy to produce and burns cleanly but requires a lot of energy to produce. Green gas is renewable and produces fewer emissions than fossil fuels. But requires significant infrastructure investments. Ultimately, the choice of which gas to use will depend on the specific needs and resources of each individual or organisation.
Greenhouse gases are gases that trap heat in the Earth’s atmosphere, contributing to the greenhouse effect and global warming. The most common greenhouse gases include carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide, which are released through human activities such as burning fossil fuels and agriculture. One of the main advantages of greenhouse gases is that they help to regulate the Earth’s temperature, keeping it warm enough to support life.
However, the overproduction of greenhouse gases is causing global temperatures to rise at an alarming rate, leading to climate change and potentially catastrophic environmental consequences such as rising sea levels, more frequent and severe weather events, and habitat destruction for plant and animal species. Additionally, the effects of climate change can have social and economic impacts, including the displacement of populations and negative impacts on agriculture and infrastructure.
What is carbon offsetting?
Carbon offsetting is a process in which organisations invest in projects that reduce or eliminate greenhouse gas emissions to compensate for their emissions. This is often done to mitigate the environmental impact of activities such as transportation, energy use, and manufacturing that produce carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases.
Carbon offset schemes can take many forms including renewable energy projects, reforestation efforts and energy efficiency improvements in buildings and infrastructure. By investing in these projects, businesses can help reduce their carbon footprint and contribute to global efforts to combat climate change.
There are several methods of carbon offsetting that businesses and individuals can use to reduce their carbon footprint. One common method is to invest in renewable energy projects such as wind farms, solar power plants, or hydropower facilities that generate clean energy and displace fossil fuel-based energy production. Another approach is to invest in reforestation and afforestation efforts, which involve tree planting and restoring natural habitats that can absorb and store carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Other options include investing in energy efficiency improvements in buildings and infrastructure, supporting carbon capture and storage technologies, or purchasing carbon credits that fund emissions reduction projects in other parts of the world.
While carbon offsetting can be a useful tool for mitigating the environmental impact of emissions, there are also some potential downsides to the practice. One of the main criticisms of carbon offsetting is that it can be difficult to accurately measure the emissions associated with a particular activity or project, which can lead to overestimating or underestimating the impact of the offset. In fact, analysis even shows that more than 90% of rainforest carbon offsets by the biggest certifiers are worthless. Additionally, some argue that carbon offsetting can give organisations a false sense of security, allowing them to continue with environmentally damaging activities without truly addressing the root cause of the emissions. There are also concerns that carbon offsetting projects can have unintended social and environmental consequences, such as displacing local communities or damaging biodiversity. Finally, there are questions about the effectiveness of carbon offsetting in achieving long-term emissions reductions, as it may not address the underlying drivers of emissions and may be less effective than direct emission reduction efforts.
Is carbon offsetting or green gas best for your business?
Both carbon offsetting and green gas can be viable options for businesses looking to reduce their carbon footprint and meet sustainability goals.
Carbon offsetting is often seen as a more flexible and cost-effective option, as it allows businesses to offset their emissions without making major changes to their operations. However, the effectiveness of carbon offsetting, as we’ve discussed above, can be difficult to quantify and there are ongoing debates about its merits as a strategy for reducing emissions.
Green gas, on the other hand, involves using sources such as biogas or synthetic methane, which can be a more direct way to reduce emissions and improve the sustainability of a business. However, the availability of green gas can vary depending on a variety of factors such as location and gas infrastructure.
Ultimately the best approach for a business will depend on a variety of factors, including its emissions profile, sustainability goals, and available resources. Businesses may want to consider a combination of carbon offsetting and green gas, as well as other strategies such as energy efficiency improvements and transitioning to renewable energy sources, to create a comprehensive sustainability plan to meet their unique goals and needs.
What schemes and incentives are available for businesses using and/or producing green gas in the UK?
There are several schemes and incentives available for businesses using and producing green gas in the UK that we’ll cover below.
Renewable Gas Guarantees of Origin
Renewable Gas Guarantees of Origin (RGGOs) are certificates that provide assurance that a given volume of biomethane has been produced from renewable sources and injected into the gas grid. Companies can obtain an RGGO by producing and injecting green gas into the gas grid or by purchasing them from a green gas producer.
There are many benefits to obtaining an RGGO. They allow companies to demonstrate their commitment to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and contributing to a more sustainable future. They can also be used to meet regulatory requirements and support compliance with carbon reduction targets. Furthermore, RGGOs can be traded on a voluntary market, allowing companies to generate additional revenue streams by selling their certificates to other companies that may need to meet their renewable energy targets.
RGGOs provide a powerful tool for companies looking to demonstrate their environmental credentials, comply with regulatory requirements, and generate additional revenue streams through the sale of certificates.
Green Gas Certification Scheme (GGCS)
The UK Green Gas Support Scheme (GGCS) is a government initiative designed to encourage the production and use of biomethane, a green gas produced from organic waste, in the UK. The scheme provides financial support to biomethane producers by providing tariff payments for every unit of biomethane injected into the gas grid.
There are numerous benefits to the scheme. Firstly, it provides a financial incentive for the production of green gas, which helps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve air quality. It also supports the development of a domestic green gas industry, which creates jobs and supports economic growth. Furthermore, it helps to diversify the UK’s energy mix and reduce dependence on imported gas, thereby improving energy security. Finally, it can help companies meet their carbon reduction targets and contribute to the UK’s overall target of achieving net zero emissions by 2050.
To summarise, the Green Gas Support Scheme provides a range of benefits to both the environment and the UK’s economy and is an important tool in the UK’s transition to a more sustainable energy system.
Climate Change Levy (CCL)
Businesses that use green gas as a fuel source may be eligible for a reduced rate of the Climate Change Levy (CCL) in the UK. The CCL is a tax on energy use that applies to most forms of energy, including natural gas, electricity, coal, and liquefied petroleum gas. However, businesses that use green gas, derived from renewable sources such as organic waste, may be eligible for a reduced rate of the CCL. This reduced rate recognises the lower carbon footprint of green gas compared to fossil fuels and is intended to incentivise the adoption of low-carbon fuel sources. The reduced rate of the CCL can provide significant cost savings for businesses that use green gas, making it a more attractive and financially viable option.
In conclusion, choosing between carbon offsetting and green gas for your business depends on your specific needs and goals. While both options can help reduce your carbon footprint, they come with different benefits and drawbacks.
Carbon offsetting can be a more cost-effective option and allows for more immediate action, but it may not address the root cause of emissions, and will not allow a business to achieve carbon neutrality. Green gas, on the other hand, can directly reduce emissions from your operations and support the development of renewable energy sources.
The premium to have carbon offset gas is overall lower than using one hundred per cent green gas, but with gas prices at historic all-time highs, with annual price increases in April 2022 being the largest ever recorded, and by utilising the green gas government incentives we discussed, the premium to use green gas has never been so low.
Ultimately, the best choice for your business will depend on factors such as your budget, industry and sustainability goals. It is important to carefully weigh the options and choose a strategy that aligns with your values and business objectives, while also making a meaningful contribution to the fight against climate change.
At Unyfi, we advise against relying on carbon offsetting for the reasons detailed throughout our blog. For cost-conscious businesses seeking energy solutions, we recommend brown gas. Meanwhile, those prioritising eco-friendliness should opt for green gas.
If you’re still unsure which gas option is right for your business, one of our sustainable energy specialists can take you through all the options for your business that will meet your needs.