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Tailwind for Swedish biogas production despite stormy weather

Swedish Energy Agency (Energimyndigheten) statistics – produced by the Swedish Gas Association (Energigas Sverige) in close cooperation with Swedish Waste Management Association (Avfall Sverige), Swedish Farmers' Association (LRF) and Swedish Water & Wastewater Association (SWWA) – show that Swedish biogas production exceeded two terawatt hours (2TWh) in 2016. In addition, over four million tonnes of digestate was also produced, of which half was used as biofertiliser in agriculture.

An agricultural biogas plant with upgrading facility.

The numbers are encouraging and show that Swedish biogas production still made some tailwind, despite hard competition last year. Now that we get clear political signals about the important role of biogas there is hope for the future. A continued focus on developing a long-term strategy where all the benefits of biogas are valued is needed. The government’s announced biogas investigation is an important part of this work, said Maria Malmkvist, CEO of the Swedish Gas Association.

A total of 279 plants produce biogas. Half of these plants are sewage treatment plants and collectively account for 35 percent (709 GWh) of the biogas produced.

The municipal wastewater plants transform our wastewater into valuable resources such as purified water, biogas and fertilizers. Biogas use must be promoted if we are to have a functioning local circular economy that reduces our environmental impact. Therefore the government urgently needs to make decisions regarding the Phosphorus Regulation with recycling targets for phosphorus and nitrogen and a regulatory framework for safe and sustainable closed loops, said Anna Linusson, CEO of SWWA.

Almost half of all biogas is produced in so-called co-digestion facilities that use a mix of different raw materials, such as food waste, manure and waste from the food industry. This production, which is in 34 plants, increased by 9 percent and totalled 944 GWh in 2016.

The citizen is, through the collection of food waste, an important link in Swedish biogas production. It’s an important environmental commitment that needs to be taken care of! Requirements for increased collection of food waste mean that there must also be increased deposition for the biogas. It presupposes equivalent competitive conditions between Swedish-produced biogas and imported, said Weine Wiqvist, CEO of the Swedish Waste Management Association (Avfall Sverige).

Biogas is also produced in a number of industries using residues, as well as over 40 smaller farms that mainly use animal manure.

Manure-based support is an important incentive to promote farm-produced biogas. It reduces manure management’s climate emissions while providing renewable energy. By 2016, Swedish biogas production has provided agriculture with two million tonnes of biofertiliser. There is a demand from our members to be able to produce more sustainable food, said Sven Erik Hammar, Deputy Chairman of the Swedish Farmers’ Association (LRF).

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