Optimal use of biogas from waste streams

As the European Commission was working on the further development and concretisation of the post-2020 climate and energy policies, this study was commissioned by DG Energy to zoom in on the potential role, cost and benefits of biogas in the period until 2030. The project included identification of the key barriers and drivers of biogas deployment in the EU, and scenarios were developed to assess the potential future biogas growth and use in different applications until 2030. A range of recommendations were derived regarding how policies at both EU and Member State level can best contribute to the effective and efficient growth of biogas deployment in the EU.

The focus of the study was biogas production by digestion processes of local waste streams, i.e. on biogas production from sewage sludge, landfill gas and from suitable organic waste streams from agriculture, the food industry and households. Improving collection and use of available organic waste streams suitable for these processes could increase EU-wide biogas production from the current level of 14.9 Mtoe towards 28.8 to 40.2 Mtoe in 2030, depending on the amount of feedstock deployed and the technology attainable. The scenarios result in a level of biogas and biomethane production in 2030 that represents 2.7 and 3.7% of the EU’s energy consumption in 2030. Impacts on cost, greenhouse gas emission reduction, etc. were also quantified.

The research was carried out through desktop research and quantitative modelling, with strong support and involvement by stakeholders. A dedicated biogas model was developed for a detailed assessment on Member State and EU level of different feedstock developments, conversion technologies and biogas end uses, including, for example, direct use of the biogas in combined heat and power plants for district heating or conversion to biomethane for use in transport.  Interviews were held with stakeholders from all Member States, and stakeholder workshops were held during the course of this project to validate the research approach and key findings. The study was carried out in a consortium with CE Delft, eclareon and Wageningen Research.