The European biogas market is strong and mature, with a total of 17,783 biogas plants and an electricity production of 65,179 GWh in 2017, EBA says.
The main expected trend for the biogas and biomethane sectors in the upcoming years will be a better integration into the EU circular economy. Digestate, the end-product of the digestion process, can be optimized and used as organic fertilizer, hereby replacing the energy-intensive production of traditional fertilizers. The European Parliament, Council and Commission recently agreed upon the Fertilizing Products Regulation, which will open the market for organic fertilizers.
In addition, as the share of renewables and intermittent energy sources is growing in Europe, the need for flexible energy production is increasing. Biogas and biomethane can be stored and overcome seasonal variations in energy demand.
In the coming years, the integration of biogas and biomethane plants in their local environment will still increase. The plants will take advantage of location-specific opportunities to optimally valorise all the end-products (CO2-gas, organic fertilizer and energy) of the anaerobic digestion process and reduce concerns of local citizens. For example, the CO2-gas flow that remains after upgrading biogas to biomethane, can be used as a nutrient source in nearby horticulture delivered in simple underground pipelines. To cover longer distances, the CO2-gas can be liquified.
Another upcoming trend will be the use of both combined heat and power production (CHP) and biogas upgrading on one plant to meet the local heat demand. Heat can be recovered for industrial or other heat-requiring activities close to the biogas plant. The remaining biogas is upgraded and injected into the gas grid.