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Europe sees record-breaking year for biomethane production

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The European biomethane industry saw record-breaking production levels in 2021.

Europe now has 1,023 production plants, a figure described by the European Biogas Association (EBA) and Gas Infrastructure Europe (GIE) as a “stepping stone” for the decarbonisation of the whole EU economy.

“2021 has witnessed the most exponential deployment of biomethane plants in Europe,” said Boyana Achovski, GIE secretary-general. “Nothing surprising here considering what biomethane brings to the table for decarbonisation. It is the only renewable fuel available and scalable today in Europe, which can enable the cost-competitive use of already existing gas infrastructure.

“The combined amount of biomethane and biogas (raw form of biomethane) available today can cover already the whole gas consumption of Belgium.”

Today, Europe has around 20,000 biogas and biomethane plants in operation. By 2050, it is estimated that sustainable biomethane will be able to cover up to 30-40% of the EU’s gas consumption, with an estimated production of at least 1,000 TWh.

The EBA/GIE Biomethane Map shows that almost 300 new units have started operation in the last year and a half. Europe has today 40% more biomethane plants compared to the previous edition released in 2020.

Harmen Dekker, EBA director, commented: “The EBA estimates that 87% of the biomethane plants active in Europe today are connected to the gas grid. To ensure that biomethane will play an increasingly important role as a renewable fuel, an efficient trade of biomethane across Europe should be established.

“Besides, the future development of gas infrastructure should consider the necessary adaptations to enable the injection of higher shares of biomethane in the distribution grids.”

France, Italy and Denmark saw the largest increase in biomethane plants. Ninety-one new units started operation in France in 2020 and 123 plants started up between January and October 2021.