EBA report highlights RNG ramp-up and pathways for full green gas deployment
By 2050, 30 to 40 percent of Europe’s total gas consumption could be made up of sustainable biomethane, according to the 11th edition of the Statistical Report launched by the European Biogas Association (EBA).
Now in its 11th annual edition, the “EBA Statistical Report 2021” provides an in-depth analysis on the state of the art and the potential of biogas and its upgraded form, biomethane (also known as renewable natural gas – RNG), and the best pathways to ensure full deployment in the coming years as part of the future energy mix.
Could reach 1 000 TWh by 2050
The report analyses the current availability of renewable gases in Europe, notably biogas and biomethane. Combined, biogas and biomethane production in 2020 amounted to 191 TWh or 18.0 bcm of energy, and the EBA expects this figure is expected to double in the next 9 years.
By 2050, production can be at least fivefold reaching over 1 000 TWh per annum, with some estimates going up to 1 700 TWh. Agriculture-based biogas and biomethane plants make up the lion’s share of the total production, which is now already more than the entire natural gas consumption of Belgium and represents 4.6 percent of the gas consumption of the European Union (EU).
In terms of job creation, the EBA report shows that biogas and biomethane industries are already responsible for over 210 000 green jobs today. Both sectors combined can be expected to create a total of approximately 420 000 jobs by 2030 and over one million jobs by 2050.
The report highlights the needed collaboration as well between biomethane and the other potential major renewable gases, such as green hydrogen in future years. Over the last decade, the delivery of dispatchable power and heat from biogas has been very important and its role will continue to some extent.
However, the EBA notes that the current trend places the emphasis squarely on sustainable biomethane production, and it is expected that this tendency will be amplified in the coming decade: biomethane is a versatile energy carrier, suitable for a range of sectors, including transport, industry, power, and heating.
Record y-o-y growth for biomethane
The report finds that 2020 saw the largest year-on-year increase in biomethane production so far in spite of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, with an additional 6.4 TWh or 0.6 bcm of biomethane produced in Europe. An even bigger increase is to be expected in 2021, as a record number of new biomethane plants started production in 2020 and are due to become fully operational within 2021.
The remaining future gas demand can be met by other renewable and low-carbon solutions such as green hydrogen. The development of synergies between green gases will be key to meeting future gas market demands the report notes.
In line with this, the EBA report highlights the need to develop a vision of how biomethane and hydrogen will integrate with each other in the future. Future infrastructure investments should aim to strengthen the distribution of renewable gases by considering the specific requirements of each gas as well as their most suitable deployment.