"The time has come for renewable gas"
Luis Puchades and Juliana Herrero, director and technician of biogas projects respectively of Biovic Consulting S.L. speak of the potential of Spain in the biogas and biomethane sector.
After lagging behind other European countries for a long time, the biogas and biomethane sector is experiencing a boom in Spain with several projects in the study and development stage and with favorable market conditions.
Renewable gas is essential to reach Europe's decarbonisation goals by 2050. Our energy model needs gas for many uses, mainly industrial, residential and/or freight transport. The production of many goods for our daily consumption, from ceramics to beer, through fertilizers, require industrial processes where gas is essential.
Mainly, there are two renewable gases: hydrogen and biogas. The European Commission has launched a very ambitious strategic plan for the development of hydrogen, with more than 500 billion euros by 2050. Spain is not far behind, planning to invest 1,500 million euros in the next 3 years. However, it is still in the initial stage of its development, so a large deployment of biogas is expected in the short term. It is a mature technology, which not only provides green energy, but also captures the emissions generated by the millions of tons of organic waste in its decomposition. The Biogas Roadmap recognizes its contribution to the circular economy, since it establishes synergies between different sectors such as urban waste management, the food industry, the agricultural sector, water purification and contributes to the demographic challenge objectives.
The number of biogas plants in the EU exceeds 19,000, while in our country we have not yet reached 300, adding all, agricultural, food, WWTP, landfills.
If we consider biomethane plants, Europe ended 2021 with just over 1,000 plants, of which 365 are in France. It should be noted that two plants a week are opened in this country. In Spain, today, we have five, although there are numerous projects under development.
The Biogas Roadmap has recently been approved, which has left a bittersweet feeling in the sector: it is late, it is not very ambitious and it does not finish specifying support measures that are up to the challenge and the potential of biogas.
For example, it sets a minimum biogas production target of 10.41 TWh per year in 2030. It is a minimal amount, which pales in comparison to the targets of other countries, such as the Netherlands, France or Denmark.
These figures are far from the real potential of Spain as a producer of biogas, which the European Commission itself establishes at 120 TWh. We must not forget that our country is the largest producer of pork in Europe, and is among the largest producers of beef, poultry, and the agri-food industry in general.
In terms of biogas and biomethane projects, interesting initiatives in recent months should be highlighted, such as injections into the gas system of biomethane that is already produced at the Elena landfill (Barcelona), the Biogasnalia plant (Burgos), the Torre de Santamaría (Lleida) and the Bens WWTP (A Coruña), all of them fantastic examples of Spain's potential to produce renewable gas from manure, agri-food waste or wastewater. Numerous projects are also announced in the short term, such as the one linked to the treatment plant and the urban waste plant of the Vallés Oriental- Besós Tordera consortium in Catalonia, which will build the first biomethane plant that has been submitted to public tender in the WWTP sector ; the projects linked to organic fertilizer companies in Almansa and Llutxent; or the biomethane plant project in an area with so many organic waste and slurry problems such as Lorca, in Murcia.
Biogas has everything to be welcomed in the portfolio of these companies: it is a circular economy at its maximum, it is a renewable technology in a state of maturity and it is an essential tool for the decarbonisation of society.