In light of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the ‘REPowerEU’ plan, released on Tuesday (8 March), focuses on ways to make Europe independent from Russian fossil fuels before 2030, starting with gas.
The European Commission has doubled its objective for home-grown biomethane production to 35 billion cubic metres per year by 2030 as part of efforts to bolster the bloc against a looming energy crisis, according to a new communication (source).
To increase the resilience of the EU’s energy system, the Commission proposes a two-pronged attack, of which it lists higher levels of biomethane, or biogas, as part of one of the key pillars.
The ambition to produce 35 billion cubic metres (bcm) of biomethane per year by 2030 is double that of a previous objective set out by the EU executive in its Fit for 55 communication, which set the figure at 17 bcm. This would see production increase tenfold across the bloc by 2030.
According to the strategy, member states’ Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) strategic plans (see below for more detail) should be instrumentalised to “channel funding to biomethane produced from sustainable biomass sources”.
This includes in particular agricultural wastes and residues, the communication specifies.
“The biomethane target represents over 20% of the current EU gas imports from Russia. By 2050, this potential can triple, growing well over 100 bcm and covering 30-50% of the future EU gas demand,” he said.
He added that some countries are already active in the development of biomethane production in Europe, while many others are starting to unlock this potential.
Reducing Energy costs
Besides biogas, the new communication also plans to increase support possibilities for farmers in the ongoing review of the state aid rules.
Together with its communication, the Commission is launching consultations with member states on a new temporary crisis framework for state aid to allow businesses to mitigate the increase in energy costs related to the Russian invasion.
Biogas production has been earmarked as a key way to help fortify the EU’s struggling farm sector against burgeoning energy costs, according to a draft of the European Commission’s communication on energy prices due to be published next month. (source)
The draft communication paints a grim picture of high and unstable energy prices continuing in the coming years. This will have serious consequences for a range of sectors, not least of which agriculture.
Fertiliser prices have increased by 142% over the last year, the draft document notes, pointing out that energy and fertilisers account for 20% of farmers’ production costs.
And this situation could deteriorate further if higher energy prices continue to push fertiliser prices up, with a risk of lower plantings, lower yields, and thus even greater pressures on farmers’ incomes and food prices, it adds.
This will put the farming sector at a “competitive disadvantage compared to competitors from third countries”.
In a bid to bolster the sector against rising energy prices, the European Commission places an emphasis on the creation and storage of biogas.
Biogas is a renewable fuel produced by the breakdown of organic matter, such as food scraps and animal waste.
“With squeezed incomes for farmers, the use of biogas can provide an opportunity for additional and diversified revenue streams for farmers, in line with the European Green Deal,” the communication reads, stating that biogas is a “clean, renewable, and reliable source of energy” as well as a new source of income for farmers.
The use of stored biogas reduces methane emissions, it can be used as a source of peak power and reduce the dependence on fossil fuels, while also helping the green transition of the agricultural sector.
The EU executive will therefore propose to set an EU-level ambition to produce 35 billion cubic metres of biogas by 2030, according to the communication.
Meanwhile, member states should adopt renewable gas strategies, fully aligned with this target.
EU developed BioGas+ improves biogas production
In response to this escalating crisis, AEGLE TECHNOLOGY plans to scale up production of BioGas+, a European developed, patented and registered advanced-materials-based innovation that obtains the highest ever-reported improvement of biogas production.
BioGas+ triples (200% increase of production) the biogas yield with cellulose as feedstock in laboratory conditions and has already been shown to obtain at least a 30% methane ratio increase in real industrial settings in initial trials.