Sustainable Energy

How one business is turning green grass into a green gas

Turning grass into green gas

From the rugged Scottish Highlands to the rolling hills of the Cotswolds, the U.K. is dotted with acres of lush, green land. Now, one green energy business is looking to harness the potential of grass and turn it into a gas.

"A few years ago we discovered that we could make gas from organic sources and pump it into the gas grid just the same as we do with green electricity, so we set out then… to find a good way to make green gas, and we've come up with the idea of making it from grass," Dale Vince, founder of Gloucestershire based Ecotricity, told CNBC's Sustainable Energy.

Ecotricity say that once the grass is sourced it is to be taken to an anaerobic digestion plant where microorganisms in an oxygen free environment break it down, producing green gas and a natural fertilizer.

Ecotricity say that this biogas can then be purified and turned into biomethane, which can be sent to the gas grid alongside more conventional fossil fuel gas.

"Grass is appealing because it's got a greater energy density than food waste, twice as much," Vince said. "It produces cleaner gas but it doesn't come with the problems of energy crops, which are all associated with intensive farming, pesticides and fertilisers and loss of habitats for wildlife," he added.

fotoVoyager | E+ | Getty Images

Vince went on to explain that for him, the potential was considerable.

"The U.K. has a surprising amount of grassland – something like 12 million hectares – but if we harnessed half of that, six million hectares, we could make enough gas to power almost 100 percent of British homes by about 2030."

Grass is just the latest in a range of interesting sources that are being used to produce biofuel. Coffee, whisky and even sewage have been turned from waste into something useful.

Energy security, the environment and economic benefits were the other advantages of gas produced from grass, Vince went on to say.

"We can make all of the gas we need here in Britain, making us independent from global fossil fuel markets and prices and the insecurities around the world that are inherent in that," he said.

"We can create massive nature reserves on an unprecedented scale by turning the land organic, something like 100,000 jobs… and have climate neutral gas and take real steps towards fighting climate change."