2017 biogas outlook: A year of promise

David Newman, president of the World Biogas Association (WBA), gives his views on the year ahead.

Whilst biogas is already a renewable industry player in developed nations, such as the UK, its potential in less developed countries has still to be realised. Indeed, the recognition of what the anaerobic digestion and biogas industry can contribute globally is really low. Hence, the establishment of the World Biogas Association (WBA).

In 2015, the United Nations adopted the Sustainable Development goals and the Paris Agreement on climate change, which has already entered into force in 2016. These were both amazingly positive steps for the world’s environment but also for human and economic development, setting us on a course for low-carbon growth.

Diplomacy and American leadership were essential in pushing both agenda, while the election of US

President Trump now puts these gains in doubt. Frankly, Brexit is irrelevant in a global context and in comparison to how the American scene plays out.

Within the context of low-carbon growth, biogas has so much to offer. We know the story well, but from a developing country perspective the key drivers for biogas will be energy independence and waste/sewage management.

Indeed, we know how rapid urbanisation and population growth have strained to breaking point already weak public service infrastructure, leading to a waste and sewage crisis in developing nations everywhere. We also know how these nations suffer from lack of energy supplies causing continual black-outs. This in turn creates an investor nightmare, adding physical constraints to the legal and security barriers many developing nations face.

Given the right policy frameworks, biogas can contribute solutions to the energy, waste and sewage nexus.

Moreover, its principle output, nutrients, can help farming especially in many of the more arid and desertifed regions which have a desperate lack of organic carbon, nitrogen and phosphorous.

This low-carbon, continuous renewable source of energy can be a major driver for economic growth, if harnessed and nurtured intelligently.

So the potential is enormous — the role of the WBA is to get this message across through the international for a and to help governments enact their national biogas strategies. 2017 promises to be exciting, Trump or no Trump!

This story was first published on Bioenergy Insight’s January/February 2017 edition and written by David Newman president of the World Biogas Association and edited by Liz Gyekye, editor of Bioenergy Insight.

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