Biogas is the cleanest fuel on the market
In Sweden, we lead the world in the use of biogas as a vehicle fuel. Biogas has the potential to replace a large part of fossil fuel consumption.
A growing world population, hand in hand with better living standards for many, means that global energy consumption is increasing and will continue to increase.
81 percent of the global energy supply is made up of fossil fuels, while renewable energy including hydropower constitutes around 13 percent, with nuclear power comprising 6 percent. Indeed, the current energy situation contributes to an increase in carbon emissions. According to the UN’s International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report from April 2014, global warming is expected to increase by four degrees Celsius rather than the forecasted two by 2100.
Sweden leads development
In Sweden, the share of renewable energy amounted to 51 percent in 2012. We are also a leading nation in the use of eco-friendly fuels in the transport sector. Despite this, the availability of renewable energy at competitive prices poses an enormous challenge for Sweden too.
Political objectives that are driving development
Politicians in Sweden continue to push for development towards a more sustainable society and have set up a target for a fossil fuel free transport sector by 2030, as well as to be an emissions neutral country by 2050. According to the Swedish Transport Administration, in order to achieve these goals, the share of fossil fuels used in road transport needs to decline by 80 percent and that the availability of biofuel must reach levels of between 15-20 TWh by 2030.
Biofuel consumption in 2013
In 2013, the share of biofuels in road transport was 9.8 percent, of which 1.2 percent was biogas. Sales of biogas increased by 5 percent last year, which is equivalent to total supply of around 146 million normal cubic meters of vehicle gas.
Breakdown of biofuel consumption in Sweden 2013
Renewable fuels are strategically important
Renewable energy means self sufficiency
Today, over thirty cities in Sweden power their municipal buses with biogas, which is also used by taxis and sanitation companies. Many industries also use renewable fuel, which like biogas, has become strategically important and at times even a prerequisite for doing business.
Estimates show that about 15 TWh of biogas could be produced by agricultural residues and from various streams of community waste, which corresponds to about the same percentage as the total vehicle fuel consumption in Sweden. 15 TWh biogas year 2030 is also the target in Energigas Sveriges report “Förslag till ny biogasstrategi”. Further production is in the future expected from thermal gasification of forest commodities. In addition, energy crops for biogas production could be grown on arable land currently lying fallow, preventing these areas from becoming overgrown.
Improved resource efficiency
Many businesses that handle organic material have a resource that they are not using to its full potential.
Cities, municipalities, food manufacturers as well as producers of ethanol and companies in the paper and forestry industries could potentially convert their organic waste and residues into a valuable resource that can be used as vehicle fuel or converted to electricity and heat.
The biogas generated from the waste can become a locally produced renewable energy carrier that can be converted into electricity or can be purified and used as vehicle fuel. For many industries and countries alike, biogas production is a way of increasing access to renewable energy and reducing dependence on imported fuel, often fossil fuel.
In many cases, biogas production entails the recycling of organic waste into a resource.
Biogas is a product of the anaerobic decomposition of organic matter through digestion and can be generated from waste, residual products, energy crops and forestry materials. Sewage sludge from wastewater plants is often used, as is food waste from restaurants and households as well as residual products from ethanol production, farming and the food industry. In addition to biogas, the process generates a nutritive residue, which in many cases can be used as fertilizer.
The environmental benefits of the production of biogas are quite simply dependent on the type of substrate used, along with the type of pretreatment applied, as well as how well the organic material is digested in the process. The digestion of waste for biogas production entails better utilization of already used resources, while residues, waste products, energy crops and forestry material can be transformed into renewable fuel under the right conditions. In many cases, the anaerobic digestion of biogas also means less emissions of flue gases and other pollutants
Biogas is the result of a biological process
Biogas production is a natural process, in which organic material is broken down by microorganisms in an oxygen-deficient environment.
Industrial production is normally carried out in large digesters where an active bacterial flora breaks down the organic material, converting it into so called raw gas. In parallel, a digestate is generated, which in many cases can be used as a nutritive bio-fertilizer. Spread over arable land, it replenishes the earth with important nutrients such as nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium and magnesium.
Biogas production is the same process that occurs in natural oxygen-deficient environments, such as mires and wetlands.
Between 0.5 and 1.0 cubic meter of biogas can typically be extracted from one kilo of dry organic material. However, the amount of biogas actually produced depends on the type of organic material used, the type of pretreatment and the digestion system as well as the know-how behind operating an efficient biogas production process. Using Scandinavian Biogas’ qualified expertise the biogas production can increase up to four times compared to conventional processes.
The main component of biogas is methane (CH4). Methane is a high-quality, energy-rich energy carrying gas generated by the anaerobic, decomposition of organic matter. During anaerobic digestion biogas is formed from fresh organic material and recycled in the biosphere, which means that no additional fossil carbon dioxide is being produced. Natural gas is the result of thermal breakdown of organic material under high pressure. The material was deposited millions of years ago and the gas is now encapsulated in fossil layers below the surface, often together with oil. When natural gas is used as vehicle fuel or to generate heat and electricity it releases carbon dioxide (CO2) that has not been in circulation for a very long time, thus increasing the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
The biogas cycle:1. Recycling of organic waste and residues
2. Waste is digested into biogas
3. Biogas is processed into fuel – CBG or LBG
4. Excess energy is used for heat and electricity
5. Biogas is used as fuel such as compressed gas (CBG) or liquidbiogas (LBG)
6. The cycle is closed
A. The bio-fertiliser formed during the biogas production process contains key, finite nutrients, which are returned to the earth via agriculture
B. Agriculture yields a harvest that provides food for humans and animals
C. Organic waste (e.g., food waste and manure) is formed