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Research Coordination for a Low-Cost Biomethane Production at Small and Medium Scale Applications

Research Coordination for a Low-Cost Biomethane Production at Small and Medium Scale Applications

English EN

Map seeks to make biomethane production economically viable

There used to be a wide gap between the many small- to medium-scale biogas plants looking into the financial viability of biomethane production and researchers developing relevant technologies. The EU Biomethane Map closes this gap by providing an overview of many innovative technologies for substrate pre-treatment, digestion and biogas upgrading.

ENERGY

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Europe is the world’s leading producer of biomethane from biogas. Biogas, which is produced by the breakdown of organic matter in the absence of oxygen, can be used to heat households, produce electricity or it can be upgraded to biomethane to fuel cars. But economic viability is still an issue: to this day, only large scale biomethane production can actually generate profit. This is not to say small or medium scale biogas plants able to produce biomethane don’t exist in Europe. As a matter a fact, as Ms Kathrin Bienert, coordinator of the Record Biomap project on behalf of DBFZ, explains: “There are many, and they have a major potential to support the decentralised production of transport fuel from biomethane, thereby helping establish isolated applications in rural areas.” Realising this potential, however, is a different story. In Germany for instance, a large number of small- to medium-scale biogas plants have been built thanks to the feed-in tariff regime provided by the Renewable Energy Sources Act (EEG). As most of these plants will soon see their EEG expire, they will require a new business model in order to maintain their economic viability. “One solution would be to become flexible in the production of electricity out of biogas, to allow for selling it at the electricity stock exchange when demand and price are high,” says Bienert. “But there is another solution which we explored under the Record Biomap project: it would consist in upgrading the biogas to biomethane.” As economic viability for biomethane production can currently not be reached for plants under 1 MW, the project set out to accelerate technology development for cost-effective small and medium scale biomethane production. They looked into all promising technologies still in their early stages of development and aimed to shorten their time to market. These include, for instance, a wood ash filter that has been developed by RISE, the Swedish research institute. The project’s efforts essentially consisted in creating the so-called Biomethane Map – a platform for all stakeholders investigating solutions for substrate pre-treatment, digestion processes and biogas upgrading systems. “The Biomethane Map is an interactive online map giving an overview of innovative technology solutions for small-medium scale biomethane production across the biomethane supply chain,” says Bienert. Besides the map itself, another major project contribution consists in a comprehensive overview and multi-indicator assessment of present (2016 - 2018) European small-scale, innovative technologies for the production of biomethane. Technical, economic and ecological indicators for small-scale biomethane technologies (with low TRL) were defined, applied, and compared to larger scale references. The project also provided an overview of financial and regulatory framework conditions for biomethane and biogas in Europe. “We hope that this project will help pursue the development of promising small to medium scale technology solutions through new collaborations enabled by the Biomethane Map. We will keep the project website with map online for as long as possible with that objective in mind, and hopefully we will be able to identify a call allowing for a follow-up project in the near future,” Bienert concludes.

Keywords

Record Biomap, biogas, biomethane, small-scale production, biomethane map

Project information

Grant agreement ID: 691911

  • Start date

    1 April 2016

  • End date

    30 September 2018

Funded under:

H2020-EU.3.3.2.

  • Overall budget:

    € 499 922

  • EU contribution

    € 499 921

Coordinated by:

DBFZ DEUTSCHES BIOMASSEFORSCHUNGSZENTRUM GEMEINNUTZIGE GMBH