European strategy recognizes pivotal role of biogas and biomethane in reducing methane emissions

October 14, 2020. Biogas and biomethane industries are strongly committed with the European Commission proposal to accelerate the reduction of methane emissions. The Methane Strategy is a fundamental step to ensure this reduction and achieve climate-neutrality by 2050. According to the EU Executive body, 53% of emissions caused by human activity come from agriculture, followed by waste (26%).

The holistic approach of the new strategy recognizes the potential of biogas and biomethane to reduce methane emissions from agriculture, which causes more than half of EU methane emissions. These emissions are avoided when methane emitting feedstock, such as manure from animal farming and biowaste, are brought to the closed and controlled environment of a biogas plant. In the biogas production facility, methane is captured and utilized 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 recognize the role of this 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.

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 separate collection of bio-waste. One of the best available recycling options for bio-waste is anaerobic digestion (AD) for biogas production. This technique delivers better environmental and climate outcomes when compared to disposal (incineration and landfill). The reduction of waste and the continual valorization of resources are the core principles of an efficient circular economy, one of the key pillars of the EU Green Deal. Municipal solid waste and wastewater produced in the cities or waste generated by industries can be turned into a new resource and generate renewable energy. The Commission proposal to consider further research on waste to biomethane technologies is a positive instrument to promote further waste valorization.

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 the further scale-up of biogas and biomethane industries. The sector is committed to EU climate-neutrality by 2050. The full recognition of its potential at EU level will be essential to help these industries grow and reach the forecasted production shares of at least 39 bcm of natural gas equivalent (380 TWh) by 2030 and 120 bcm (1170 TWh) by 2050.

According to Susanna Pflüger, Secretary General of the European Biogas Association (EBA), “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.”

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