The biogas future challenges for 2021

Biogas is a renewable, recyclable and green energy source that can be used directly as a fuel. With rapid technological development and the construction of many plants, especially in Europe, various aspects of research on biogas production technologies have been considerably advanced. To date, in fact, biogas plants can be defined as a link between territory, agricultural production and the agro-industrial system, contributing to better integration and greater sustainability and territorial management. Biogas represents one of the energy sources that will have an active role in the coming years. The new Green Deal proposed by Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission since September 2020, raises the previous objective of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 40% by 2030 to at least 55%, and aims for 2050 achieve that of a Carbon Neutral Europe, powered 100% by renewable energy.

The development and production of biogas to date

Energy and climate policies in the EU and the introduction of various support schemes to promote the use of renewable resources, since the second half of the 2000s, have encouraged the development of biogas plants for the production of heat, and methane. At the end of 2017, it was estimated that there were 17,783 AD plants in operation in Europe, after a decade of steady growth, which has been largely resilient in the face of periods of political upheaval in various countries. The total installed electricity capacity of biogas plants in Europe (IEC) increased by 5% in 2017, reaching a total of 10,532 MW, compared to 8,355 MW installed and registered in 2014.

The biogas future - the growth in the number of biogas plants in Europe
Pic. 1The graph represents the growth in the number of biogas plants in Europe (left), and per 1 million capita (right).

Despite the great developments in this decade, the European and global sector is still in its begin stage to facing with the new future challenges of biogas production. As estimated by the’International Energy Agency – IEA, approximately 35 million tons of oil equivalent were produced globally in 2018. They represent only a fraction of the total estimated potential, which could cover up to about 20 % of current international demand for natural gas. Therefore, the biogas future challenges looks less difficult and its production like it will continue to grow.

New Challenges for Biogas and Biomethane Production

The IEA in its document “Outlook for biogas and biomethane: Prospects for organic growth” states that the starting point for the production of biogas is represented by waste: crop and forest residues, animal wastes, solid urban waste, wastewater and agro-food industry waste.  “By transforming organic waste into a renewable energy resource, the production of biogas or biomethane offers a window into a world in which resources are continuously reused“, IEA declares. “A world where the growing demand for energy services can be met while offering wider environmental benefits“. These wastes, together with pretreatment and treatment technologies that enhance their use in economic and managerial terms in biogas plants, represent a strong imputs for the growth of the sector, introducing it within the green economy. The enhancement of by-products will therefore provide the necessary push to make the renewable energy sector even more competitive and sustainable without reducing the supply of agricultural products on the food market and overcoming one of the main taboos that has always in some way limited the development of biogas in Europe: the use of dedicated energy crops.

What must change in terms of legislation and communication to ensure development for the future of biogas?

In addition to the enhancement of waste biomass, the use of new innovative technologies that increase the efficiency of the plants, help and improvement must also be recorded in the regulations at EU and national level. It’s important, that in order to ensure an increasingly sustainable future of biogas and biomethane as early as 2021, both Europe and the member states fund incentive policies for “biogas done well“. In addition, information campaigns at a social level will have to be launched to promote the importance that the production of biogas and biomethane from renewable raw materials has in increasing environmental sustainability and reducing the ecological impact of the humans.

Fatih Birol, executive director of the IAE, also told “Biogas and biomethane can play an important role in a sustainable energy future, but for the moment we are missing out on this opportunity”, “A push at the government level can give necessary momentum, with benefits in terms of energy, transport, agriculture and the environment” (source »).

And in terms of technology?

The enhancement of waste raw materials and/or by-products of agricultural activities and the food industry and the introduction of new EU and national policies that encourage their reuse in biogas and biomethane plants are two fundamental steps to ensure economic, ecological and sustainable development, starting already from 2021. However, a third factor is of vital importance: continuous technological development and the use of new technologies that make it possible to use 100% waste biomass efficiently and effectively within any plant.

BioBANG® is the innovative pre-treatment system that guarantees the new energy conversion of all biogas and biomethane plants, helping them to meet new economic, environmental and social challenges.

BioBANG installed on biogas plant in France
Fig. 2: BioBANG® installed on biogas plant in France.

The physical energy expressed by cavitation, the heart of BioBANG® technology, is transmitted directly and completely to the mass, releasing all the “energy” potential from waste biomass
BioBANG® effectively converts all waste biomass and by-products into energy, thus ensuring the optimization of the energy, economic and environmental sustainability of biogas and biomethane plants.

With the introduction of new technologies and innovative systems in plants, the biogas future challenges can only be marked by ever greater and decisive results for achieving the green economy Challenges that our planet needs.

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