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Sharp increase in European RNG output in 2021 – EBA

Sharp increase in European RNG output in 2021 – EBA
The European demand for biomethane aka renewable natural gas (RNG) for all final uses is strong with 20 percent growth in 2021 (graphic courtesy EBA).

The European demand for biomethane aka renewable natural gas (RNG) for all final uses is strong. 2021 saw unprecedented growth – a 20 percent increase in biomethane production and a total of 3.5 billion cubic metres (bcm) produced according to the European Biogas Association's EBA Statistical Report 2022.

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According to the European Biogas Association (EBA), an even greater expansion is expected in 2022, as a record number of new biomethane plants (184) started production last year and will become operational within 2022.

The 2022 edition of the EBA Statistical Report published today shows that the biogas and biomethane sector is already providing 18.4 bcm of renewable gas to Europe. In the mid-term, our sector is a key pillar of the REPowerEU strategy, including the deployment of 35 bcm of sustainable biomethane a year by 2030 to mitigate climate change and strengthen the EU’s strategic autonomy. By 2050, it could provide up to 167 bcm and cover 62 percent of the gas demand, explained Harmen Dekker, CEO of the EBA, assuming a reduced gas demand of 271 bcm

Climate goals and energy security

The deployment of renewable gases entails a substantial contribution to climate targets, but also to the EU’s independence from natural gas imports.

Some 82 percent of the fossil gas consumed in 2021 came from external supplies (338 bcm), with 15 Member States importing over 90 percent of their gas. Russia was the main source of supply and represented 33 percent (137 bcm) of the EU’s fossil gas consumption in 2021.

The need for higher energy independence is combined with falling biomethane production costs, which are already significantly below the expected average TTF gas price for 2022 (EUR 80/MWh as opposed to EUR 134/MWh).

It is thus clear that speeding up biomethane production and accelerating the clean energy transition is of high importance to stabilize gas prices and ensure energy security.

Replace artificial fertilizers

The deployment of biomethane can also increase the availability and affordability of organic fertilizers for food production. Fossil gas is currently the main feedstock and energy source to produce synthetic fertilizers.

According to the EBA Statistical Report 2022, Europe could already save today 0.6 bcm of natural gas consumption by replacing 5 – 6 percent of synthetic nitrogen fertilizers with digestate, the residual by-product of anaerobic digestion (AD).

The overall expansion of the sector will also boost the deployment of a resilient European bioeconomy.

The biogas industry in EU-27 had a turnover of EUR 5.75 billion in 2020, higher than the hydropower industry’s EUR 4.65 billion.

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