As one of ADBA's partners UK AD & Biogas 2015, ENDS Waste&Bioenergy is sharing regular insights from its reporting on the European biogas, biomass and waste to energy sectors.
At the end of 2013 there were 14,500 operational biogas plants in Europe, according to the European Biogas Association. Only 282 of them – just under 2% – were upgrading biogas to biomethane, suitable for injection into natural gas grids.
But for 2015, biogas upgrading is looking like a real emerging trend. The practice is currently only relatively common in Germany and parts of Scandinavia. But it is now growing in the UK and reaching into other markets as well.
France, for instance, kicked off this year by inaugurating it first biogas-to-grid facility. SMET 71, an association of local authorities from the Saône-et-Loire region, officially opened its ECOCEA AD facility. The plant is expected to process around 70,000 tonnes of food waste a year.
Scotland’s first biogas-to-grid facility began sending upgraded biomethane at the very end of last year, its financial backer investment firm Iona Capital confirmed earlier this month.
The Scottish facility is owned by Keithick Biogas and located in Perthshire central Scotland, it will be supplied with 36,000 tonnes of rye, maize and sugar beet wastes each year.
Meanwhile, the government of Madrid late last year launched a €14.9m tender to send biomethane into its grid system. It is seeking a business to supply the facilities to upgrade biogas produced at the Valdemingómez Technology Park.
Under the plans for the 11 years and eight months contract, Madrid would become the first Spanish city to upgrade biogas. The authority puts potential output at almost 150,000MWh a year.
And while government subsidies or incentives are important drivers, there are even signs that biogas-to-grid could compete without.
For example Austrian Trade association Fachverband der Gas und Wärmeversorgungsunternehmungen has predicted a more than 50% increase in biogas-to-grid production for 2014. This, despite the fact there are no subsidies for the practice.
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