The future of biogas in Europe: it’s a local affair

(EurActiv, 30 Sep 2019) The prospects for biogas in Europe look bright, with conservative estimates pointing to a tenfold increase in production by 2030. However, the industry will need to stay rooted in the local economy and come clean on environmental credentials if it wants to avoid a green backlash, analysts say.

Biogas production remains tiny at the moment. The whole industry in Europe currently produces about 2 billion cubic meters (bcm) of biogas per year, a small fraction of total EU gas consumption, which currently stands at around 470 bcm per annum.

“At the moment, it’s nothing – it’s peanuts,” says Marc-Antoine Eyl-Mazzega, energy director at the French Institute for International Relations (IFRI), a think tank.

Most of the production is currently located in Germany, which hosts more than half of the 9,000 or so biogas plants currently in operation across the EU.

But the industry has big ambitions for the future, with France and Italy now seen as the new European leaders. A study commissioned by Gas for Climate, an industry consortium, claims production in Europe could skyrocket to 98 bcm of biomethane by 2050 – a 4,800% increase on current levels.

Those estimates are controversial however. The International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT), a green NGO, evaluated the potential for sustainable biogas production in Europe at 36 bcm per year by 2050, much less than industry projections.

So why do estimates diverge so widely? Essentially because of projected costs, which are linked to environmental concerns.

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EurActiv, 30 Sep 2019: The future of biogas in Europe: it’s a local affair