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Biogas and biomethane to cover 62% of gas demand by 2050

As the European Union is determined to steer away from Russian gas while holding climate change mitigation efforts up, biomethane will play a crucial role with the clear target of deploying 35 billion cubic metres (bcm) per year.

According to the European Biogas Association’s Statistical Report, biogas and biomethane are 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% of the gas demand,” explained Harmen Dekker, CEO of EBA.

Combined biogas and biomethane production in 2021 amounted to 196 terawatt-hours (TWh) or 18.4 bcm of energy. This is similar to the entire natural gas consumption of Belgium and represents 4.5 per cent of the gas consumption of the European Union in 2021. Whereas the biogas industry has stagnated over the past decade, biomethane production continues to grow and 2020 saw a biomethane production in Europe of 31 TWh or 2.9 bcm; this figure grew to 37 TWh or 3.5 bcm in 2021, representing an increase of 20 per cent.

Slovakia leads Central and Eastern Europe with an overall production of biogas (relative to total gas consumption in 2021) of 12 per cent; it is followed by Czechia (7 per cent), Greece (2 per cent) and Poland (1 per cent). Still, no production is registered for biomethane.

However, there is a consensus that by 2030, the biogas and biomethane sectors combined can more than double and by 2050, it can increase at least fivefold from today’s levels.

Speeding up biomethane production and accelerating the clean energy transition are also of high importance to stabilise gas prices and ensure energy security. Indeed, biomethane production costs are already significantly below the expected average TTF gas price for 2022 (80 euros/megawatt-hours – MWh as opposed to 134 euros/MWh).

The deployment of biomethane can also increase the availability and affordability of organic fertilisers for food production. Natural gas is at the moment the main feedstock and energy source to produce synthetic fertilisers. According to the EBA Statistical Report 2022, Europe could already save today 0.6 bcm of natural gas consumption by replacing 5 – 6 per cent of synthetic nitrogen fertilisers with digestate. This could have already avoided 1,096-ton CO2 equivalent in 2021, as the production of mineral fertilisers is highly energy-intensive.

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