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Europe sees 20% increase in biomethane production – EBA

Europe sees 20% increase in biomethane production – EBA
Biogas and biomethane (RNG) production in Europe 2011 - 2022 (graphic courtesy EBA).

While biomethane (aka renewable natural gas - RNG) production in Europe grew by almost 20 percent in 2022 compared to the previous year, the EU dependency on natural gas imports went from 83 percent in 2021 to 97 percent in 2022 according to data from the European Biogas Association (EBA).

Europe’s biogases production (combined biogas and biomethane) in 2022 amounted to 21 bcm according to the new edition of the EBA Statistical Report released by the EBA.

This is more than Poland’s entire inland natural gas demand and represents 6 percent of the EU’s natural gas consumption in 2022.

With gas import dependency on the rise together with the pressing climate emergencies, sustainable biogases production in Europe is of strategic importance. Each Euro invested in biogases will remain in the European economy and provide an additional value of 50 percent before 2030 that will also stay within our economy, said Harmen Dekker, CEO of EBA.

The report finds that biomethane production alone grew from 3.5 bcm in 2021 to 4.2 bcm in 2022.

In the case of Denmark, the share of biomethane in the gas grid was close to 40 percent and there are plans to increase this production to substitute 100 percent of the gas demand before 2030.

The versatility of biomethane as a renewable energy source is reflected in its balanced distribution pattern across end-uses, all in urgent need for decarbonization: 22 percent was used for buildings in 2022, whereas a further 14 percent was used in industry, 19 percent for transport and 15 percent for power generation.

It is imperative to think about how to clear out our dependence on fossil fuels and energy imports by accelerating deployment of renewable energies made in Europe, rather than locking in other dependencies, said Giulia Cancian, Secretary General of EBA.

Imports pose threats to energy- and food security

Different national rules make it difficult for producers of organic fertilizers, such as digestate from biogas plants, to sell and use them across the EU single market. The new legislation, provisionally agreed by the EU Council and Parliament on November 20, 2018, and which will replace the current 2003 Fertilisers Regulation, includes all fertilizer types.

Europe’s reliance on imports poses risks also for food security, due to its dependence on imported chemical fertilizers.

According to EBA data, Europe produced 31 million tonnes (dry matter) of digestate in 2022 and could already cover 15 percent of the EU’s nitrogen-based fertilizer demand assuming a fertilizer demand of around 11 million tonnes.

This alone could save 10 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2eq) and 2 bcm of natural gas consumption.

Reaching 35 bcm of biomethane production requires a sustained annual growth rate of around 30 percent in biomethane production capacity. Such a level of growth is achievable but needs to be supported by optimal market conditions. Coherent planning of biomethane potential and faster permissions processes are the first steps to encouraging market and project developers to operate at a significantly faster pace, ended Mieke Decorte, EBA’s Technical and Project Manager.

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