This year, we have experienced the consequences of the extremely volatile price of fossil gas. The excessive dependence of the European Union (EU) on external energy supplies from Russia is hindering energy security and inflating the energy bills of thousands of European households and industries. The EU is determined to steer away from Russian gas while holding climate change mitigation efforts up, by expediting the production and uptake of renewable energy. As demonstrated by this report, our sector is already providing 18.4 bcm of renewable gas to Europe. By 2050 it could provide up to 167 bcm, covering 35-62% of 2050’s gas demand.
The deployment of 35 bcm of sustainable biomethane a year by 2030 proposed by the European Commission in the REPowerEU action plan, will contribute to energy security and climate change mitigation. To reach the 35 bcm target, biomethane must sustain a substantial growth until 2030. The development of the sector will additionally contribute to an integrated net-zero energy system, encompassing the energy and agroecological transitions and helping Europe embrace circular economy.
The EBA Statistical Report is the only detailed publication tracking the state of play of biogas and biomethane production and use across Europe every year, and covering the latest updates in multiple national markets. It keeps track of the achievements of our dynamic and forward-looking sector and for this reason it is an essential tool to back up wise investment decisions and solid policy design.
The 12th edition includes a specific chapter dedicated to digestate use, brand-new country profiles, fresh analysis on the evolution of Europe’s energy mix, as well as updates on the sector’s production costs and contribution to green jobs, among other relevant highlights.
Overview of the report
Report chapter 2: Biomethane and biogas market
Combined biogas and biomethane production in 2021 amounted to 196 TWh or 18.4 bcm of energy. This is similar to the entire natural gas consumption of Belgium and represents 4.5 % of the gas consumption of the European Union in 2021. Whereas the biogas industry has stagnated over the past decade, biomethane production continues to grow. 2020 saw a biomethane production in Europe of 31 TWh or 2.9 bcm; this figure grew to 37 TWh or 3.5 bcm in 2021, representing an increase of 20%.
Over the last decade, the delivery of dispatchable power and heat from biogas has been very important and its role will continue to a certain extent. The current trend places the emphasis squarely on biomethane production, however, and it is expected that this tendency will be amplified in the coming decade: biomethane is a versatile energy carrier, suitable for a range of sectors, including transport, industry, power, and heating.
Figure 2.2: Combined biomethane and biogas production in Europe (bcm)
Figure 2.3 : Biomethane and biogas production relative to total gas consumption in 2021, top 16 countries
Report chapter 3: Growth prospects and strategies for scale-up
There is a consensus that by 2030, the biogas and biomethane sectors combined can more than double production from 18.4 bcm in 2021 to approx. 35-45 bcm in 2030. By 2050, production can increase at least fivefold from today’s production levels, going up to productions of 95-167 bcm. The European Commission’s REPowerEU Communication and Action Plan includes the need to promptly scale up the production of biomethane to reach 35 bcm in 2030 and to create the preconditions for a further ramp-up of its potential by 2050, in order to increase EU energy security.
The potential production range calculated to be reachable by 2050 (95-167 bcm) is significant, as the 2021 EU gas consumption was 412 bcm. The 2050 production potentials thus represent 23-41% of the gas consumption of the EU in 2021. Assuming a reduced total gas demand in 2050 of 271 bcm, it is estimated that biomethane will be able to cover 35 – 62% of the gas demand by 2050.
Figure 3.1: European biogas and biomethane production potential for 2030 and 2050, as calculated by the various studies, expressed in bcm and TWh
Figure 3.2: Illustration of total biomethane production potential by adding together the average values per feedstock type from Table 3.2 (bcm)
Report chapter 4: Biomethane use in transport
Despite the current efforts to electrify EU mobility, transport has not seen the same gradual decrease of GHG emissions as other sectors. Namely, road transport is dominated by fossil gas/diesel oil and motor gasoline, especially when taking into consideration the heavy-duty segment. In maritime transport, most of the ships in service today sail on heavy fuel oil that, despite being cheaper than other fuels, produces high emissions of sulphur oxide.
Biomethane as a transport fuel provides a sustainable and readily available alternative for conventional transport fuels, representing a key player in the transition towards a climate neutral economy. At the time of writing, multiple EU legislative proposals under discussion seek to cut the emissions of the sector. Various technologies and sustainable fuels can help to speed up this needed transition in a cost-effective manner.
Figure 4.2. Current and future development of the number of Bio-LNG plants and production capacity (TWh/year), 2018-2025
Figure 4.7. Number of Bio-CNG and Bio-LNG filling stations in Europe
Report chapter 5:Renewable gas for a resilient transition to net zero
The current trends show that biomethane production costs are already significantly below the expected average TTF gas price for 2022 (80 €/MWh as opposed to 134 €/MWh). It is thus clear that speeding up biomethane production and accelerating the clean energy transition in general are of high importance to stabilize gas prices and ensure energy security.
Additionally, phasing out fossil energy with biogas or biomethane also means the replacement of a product that is otherwise almost completely produced abroad. As biogas and biomethane are locally produced, using local organic waste streams, local jobs are created.
Figure 5.1: Biomethane production costs from AD as calculated by different studies
Report chapter 6: Completing the nutrient cycle with digestate
Digestate has the potential to transform Europe’s agricultural sector, offering an attractive, sustainable alternative to commonly used synthetic fertilisers. The utilisation of digestate or digestate-derived products in the EU contributes to the achievement of the bloc’s strategic objectives for resource efficiency, circular economy and the environment at large.
The use of digestate enables the reduction of synthetic fertilisers set by the Farm to Fork strategy; a proper management of soil health and soil recovery, tackling the issue of mineral balance and lack of organic matter in soils as sought by the EU Soil strategy, and efficient carbon capture directly in line with the current development of the carbon farming policies.