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European Biogas Association welcomes Commission's Methane Strategy

The European Biogas Association (EBA) welcomes the holistic approach of the EU Methane Strategy to accelerate the reduction of methane emissions and achieve climate-neutrality by 2050. The new strategy presented by the European Commission (EC) on October 14, 2020, acknowledges the high potential of biogas to reduce methane emissions in agriculture and boost rural development.

On October 14, 2020, Frans Timmermans, Executive Vice-President of the European Commission in charge of the European Green Deal, and Kadri Simson, European Commissioner for Energy, presented the EU Methane Strategy that was adopted by the Commission along with the Renovation Wave Strategy and State of the Energy Union report (graphic courtesy EC – Audiovisual Service).

According to the EBA, the biogas and biomethane industries are strongly committed to the European Commission’s proposal to accelerate the reduction of methane emissions. The EU Methane Strategy recognises the pivotal role of biogas and biomethane in reducing EU methane emissions in agricultural and waste sectors and is a fundamental step to ensure this reduction and achieve climate-neutrality by 2050.

The holistic approach of the new strategy recognises the potential of biogas and biomethane to reduce methane emissions from agriculture, which causes more than half of EU methane emissions, and from waste and help the EU make the shift towards a truly circular economy.

Figures from the EU Executive body suggest that 53 percent of anthropogenic methane emissions come from agriculture, followed by waste at 26 percent. These emissions are avoided when methane emitting feedstock, such as manure from animal husbandry and biowaste, are brought into the closed and controlled environment of a biogas plant.

A manure based biogas plant in Italy.

In a biogas production facility, methane is captured and utilised instead of being naturally released into the atmosphere during manure storage.

The support for biogas production from agricultural waste, as proposed in the Methane Strategy, is “a positive step to recognise the role of our sector as a booster of rural development. It is also an excellent example of sector integration in which the synergies between agriculture and renewable gas production are fully exploited”, the EBA remarked.

AD best treatment option for biowaste

Biogas and biomethane can also help reduce emissions from waste, the second-biggest source of methane emissions in the EU. As of 2023, member states are obliged to implement a separate collection of biowaste and according to the EBA, anaerobic digestion (AD) for biogas production is one of the best available recycling options for biowaste.

This technique delivers better environmental and climate outcomes when compared to conventional disposal methods such as incineration or landfill. The reduction of waste and the continual valorisation of resources are the core principles of an efficient circular economy, one of the key pillars of the European Green Deal.

The EBA highlight that municipal solid waste (MSW), wastewater treatment plants (WWTP), and waste generated by industries can be turned into new resources and generate renewable energy.

The “Tuvan” municipal wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) in Skellefteå, Sweden has also a co-located dedicated food waste biogas plant. The shared facilities, all post-digestion, include biogas storage, upgrading, compression, and flare.

The Commission proposal to consider further research on waste to biomethane technologies is seen as a “positive instrument” to promote further waste valorisation.

Scale-up opportunity

The cross-sectoral perspective adopted by the Methane Strategy enhances the high potential of biogas and biomethane to reduce methane emissions in non-energy sectors. This is a key opportunity for further scale-up of biogas and biomethane industries.

The EBA says that the sector is committed to EU climate-neutrality by 2050. The full recognition of its potential at the EU level will be essential to help these industries grow and reach the forecasted production shares of at least 39 billion m3 (bcm) of natural gas equivalent (380 TWh) by 2030 and 120 bcm (1 170 TWh) by 2050.

The Methane Strategy shows that biogas and biomethane are a key part of the solution to reduce methane emissions in the agricultural and waste management sectors. Biogas and biomethane can turn the re-use of waste into an opportunity, being a source of rural development and shaping our circular economy, said Susanna Pflüger, Secretary-General of the EBA.

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