Nowadays we hear more and more talk of ecological transition, a process involving technology, economy and ecology with the aim of producing clean energy with low environmental impact. A central role in this path is played by biogas and biomethane, two renewable gases at a reasonable cost that have already given excellent results.
What are biogas and biomethane
Biogas is the result of anaerobic digestion of biomass (a process of degradation of organic waste such as agricultural residues, urban organic waste, livestock sewage…) by numerous bacteria. This process is essential because it allows methane to be stored and not dispersed into the atmosphere, thus saving in terms of emissions.
Biomethane, on the other hand, is the fruit of refining and purification of biogas. This takes place through the removal of water, carbon dioxide and contaminants (siloxanes, sulfur dioxide and ammonia) and allows it to be used immediately (and without the need for modifications to the systems) in the network and by gas users.
Biogas plants: what is the situation in Europe?
The road leading to the full use of renewable gases appears increasingly clear from the moment in which, between 2009 and the end of 2019, the number of biogas plants in Europe literally tripled. It has gone from 6,300 to almost 20,000, all distributed between Germany, Italy, France, Denmark and the United Kingdom. Furthermore, at the end of 2021 there was further growth with 40% more plants than in 2020. In the top 3 of the most active European countries in the production of biogas there are France, Italy and Denmark. Until 2020, the French had about 91 plants, a number that was completely overturned in the space of a year and a half: another 123 plants were added between January and October 2021. Immediately behind are Italy and Denmark which in 2020 built another 11 and 10 plants respectively..
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How is Italy behaving in the field of biogas
In 2007, Italy had 150 biogas plants, a number destined to grow exponentially over the following years. Nowadays with approx 2,000 implantsthe and a production of 2.5 billion cubic meters, Italy is the second largest biogas producer in Europe and the fourth in the world. If you look at the regional layout of the plants, most of them are concentrated in the area of Po Valley, Puglia and Veneto. Looking to the future, if Italy continued to travel with these numbers, it could produce up to 8.5 billion cubic meters of biomethane by 2030 (about 12-13% of the current annual requirement for natural gas). This result translates into an environmental level with a drastic reduction of emissions and an economic level with an increase of around 21,000 jobs.
What is the biomethane decree
In March 2018, the Biomethane Decree was signed to promote advanced biomethane as the main transport fuel. For this decree, 4.7 billion euros of public funds have been allocated to convert biogas plants to biomethane. Jumping to the present day, in September 2022 the Minister of Ecological Transition, Roberto Cingolani signed a new decree to encourage the production of biogas and biomethane. This decree has the objective of further strengthening the Italian production of biogas in such a way as to put a definitive end to the dependence on foreign gas. In this case, 1.7 billion euros have been allocated to strengthen existing plants or to build new ones.