Biogas is a gas mixture composed mainly of methane (CH4) and carbon dioxide (CO2), along with water and other trace gases. It results from a natural degradation process of biomass performed by a large variety of micro-organisms taking place in the absence of oxygen, a process referred to as anaerobic digestion. Industrial anaerobic digestion can process a wide range of biomass varieties including sewage sludge, animal and vegetable by-products, household biowaste and primary or secondary crops. The ‘bio’ aspect of biogas refers to its biological production process and renewable (biomass) origin, in opposition to ‘natural gas’ which is of fossil origin. (REF: EBA)
Biogas projects are crucial in the fight against climate change as they capture and destroy methane. Methane is a fast gas, one of the worst greenhouse gases, that does 86 times more damage than CO2 in the first 20 years. REF: UN IPPC
Investments in biogas sector have the potential to reduce global greenhouse gas emission by 12 %.
What is more, biogas projects can be in the center of a circular economy were waste is turned into a resource. Biogas projects also have significant development impact, as they:
- boost rural income for farmers
- generate employment
- improve the environment
- safeguard water resources
- provide a domestic fuel source
Biogas is the third fastest growing renewable energy source in the world, following photovoltaic solar and wind power (period 1990 to 2015) Ref: European Biogas Association
Biogas could cover 20 % of global gas demand, however unfortunately much of that potential remains untapped due to higher production price of biogas than natural gas. Strong incentives, particularly in SEA and China, would be needed to increase biogas production from its current level of 35 MTOE globally towards its current global 600 MTOE potential. REF: International Energy Agency
A typical South East Asian biogas plant produces biogas from wastewater and waste biomass (“Feedstock”). The source of the Feedstock is commonly an agro-industry factory. The biogas is then combusted in a boiler and generator sets to produce heat and electricity. The heat is often used locally in the production process of the agricultural factory. The electricity can also be sold directly the same factory, or injected into the existing grid. The biogas can also be upgraded by removing CO2 to produce sustainable transport fuel, aka Renewable Natural Gas (“RNG”). RNG can be injected to local grid, or transported by trucks to nearby factories, or sold at a renewable energy pumpstation like we do in North Thailand.
Yes, but first biogas needs to be upgraded to biomethane by removing CO2 and compressing it. This produces a sustainable energy fuel called Biomethane. Biomethane can be used directly in existing car and truck engines running on natural gas (CNG and NGV cars). In north Thailand, we are producing biomethane – aka renewable natural gas- for 500 cars per day. Check it out at https://www.linkedin.com/company/re-power-group
Biomethane use as a fuel in cars can contribute to improving air quality in cities, with ultra-low levels of particulates and a massively reduced nitrogen oxides (NOx) emissions.
An economy that is restorative and regenerative by design.
In a circular economy economic activity builds and rebuilds overall system health. The concept recognises the importance of the economy needing to work effectively at all scales – for big and small businesses, for organisations and individuals, globally and locally.
It is based on three principles:
- Design out waste and pollution
- Keep products and materials in use
- Regenerate natural systems”
REF: Ellen Macarthur Foundation
Biogas can be the cornerstone of a local circular bio-economy as summarized by the following 5 Rs:
• Reduce: resource use is reduced through local biogas and biomethane production. As biogas replaces imported fossil fuels, transportation costs are reduced.
• Reuse: wastewater from agro factories is reused to produce biogas, biomethane, and green electricity. Waste becomes Value. Biogas project effluent water and digestate can be reused as liquid fertilizer, i.e. a great resource to improve crop yields for farmers.
• Replace: harmful and finite fossil fuels are replaced by clean energy slowing down global warming
• Recycle: nutrients, material, chemicals are recycled
• Restore: ecosystems are restored as air and water pollution is stopped. Once a biogas project is finished, the open ponds of the agro-factory gradually recover as water is cleaned up to 99%. They recover so well that birds and fish return to the lagoons.
Most importantly, biogas projects not only protect, but actively improve the environment, which is essential to circular economy.
Biogas projects have exceptionally strong positive environmental impact. Measured in term of carbon yield (Greenhouse Gas reductions/capex), the impact of biogas projects are 20-30 higher than solar or wind projects. In other words, an Impact Investor who sets out to combat climate change and invests USD 10 million in a biogas project will achieve the same reduction in greenhouse gases as if he invested 200-300 million in solar or wind.
However, the impacts of biogas projects are significantly more wide-reaching than simply a reduction of Greenhous gases.
Biogas projects reduce air pollution, protect water resources, safeguard the health and livelihood of locals. This is achieved through methane capture, and by safe and efficient wastewater treatment prior to its release to surface waters. Typically biogas projects clean water with a 80-99% efficiency.
Yes, biogas project can contribute towards 15 of the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals, Most importantly towards the following UN SDGs:
UN SDG#3: GOOD HEALTH AND WELL-BEING, by dramatically reducing and preventing air, soil and water pollution, protecting locals health and livelihoods and providing savings in energy cost to the poorest.
UN SDG#6: CLEAN WATER, by treating wastewater to 99% efficiency, by protecting groundwater and surface waters and increasing water use efficiency.
UN SDG#7: AFFORDABLE AND CLEAN ENERGY, by providing energy infrastructure and replacing fossil fuels with clean biogas.
UN SDG#13: CLIMATE ACTION, by reducing emission of Greenhouse gases. By capturing and destroying methane that is 86 times more harmful to environment than CO2 in the next 20 years. (REF: UN IPCC report)
Check out https://www.linkedin.com/company/re-power-group to see how biogas projects contribute towards the remaining 12 UN SDGs.