Acknowledging the full potential of biomethane as transport fuel

  • EBA is launching today new paper providing a comprehensive analysis on the potential of biomethane for the fast decarbonisation of the transport sector and policy recommendations to ensure the further scale-up of this green fuel.

  • The paper has considered 11 comparative studies analysing transport emissions per type of fuel, which show that biomethane can reach even carbon negative levels of CO2 reductions in transport.

  • The further development of biomethane will support a strong car industry within Europe and provide additional resources for farmers from energy production.

All studies on alternative fuels since 2010, including EU JRC reports, show that biomethane can reach even carbon negative levels of CO2 reductions in the transport sector. This renewable fuel is readily available, scalable and contributes to maintain a strong car industry within the EU. It is now crucial to untap the valuable role of biomethane on an equal footing with electric mobility to ensure the most needed decarbonisation of the EU transport sector.

Despite all current efforts from the EU, transport is the only sector which is not decarbonizing but shows even an increase in GHG emissions on a yearly basis since 2014[1]. The need for further actions to reduce emissions in the transport sector must be addressed without delay. The development of green electric mobility is advancing but will not ensure alone the expected and much needed decarbonization in time and it will fall short to adequately cover all areas of transport. Other alternative green fuels can contribute, together with green electric mobility, to speed up transport decarbonization in the coming years and make sure its economic benefits remain in the EU.

Based on the factual data, the European Biogas Association (EBA) calls upon EU policy-makers to recognise the valuable role and potential of biomethane in the Strategy on Sustainable and Smart Mobility and create a level playing field allowing for this scalable green fuel to contribute to the most needed decarbonization of the transport sector on an equal footing with e-mobility.

Biomethane is currently the only sustainable fuel besides green electricity which is readily available and allows for the fast decarbonization of all transport areas. It is a versatile sustainable fuel which can be compressed to Bio-CNG or liquefied to Bio-LNG. Biomethane is already being used in light passenger vehicles as Bio-CNG, but also in heavy transport as Bio-LNG and Bio-CNG. The maritime sector has increasing interest in biomethane as sustainable fuel and in rail transport locomotives can replace the use of diesel by Bio-CNG or Bio-LNG.

The technologies to enable the further deployment of biomethane are readily available. Standard Internal gas Combustion Engines (ICE) are compatible with biomethane. This seems to be controversial as those type of engines are also used for fossil fuels. However, it is important to highlight that emissions depend on the type of fuel that is used and not on the technology, in this case the engine. The first studies on this show that ICE engines are not only performing better than the e-fueled engines in its CO2 footprint at production level, but also at the end of life phase.[2]

Biomethane does emit CO2, but of biogenic nature, which is different from fossil CO2. The impact of a biogenic CO2 emissions is offset by the sequestration of an almost simultaneous (or at least close in time) equivalent CO2 absorption from biomass, unlike fossil carbon, for which the sequestration occurs over a geological timescale. Biogenic and fossil CO2 should not be accounted for in the same way.

Apart from significantly reducing CO2 emissions, biomethane is at the heart of a circular economy: it is the best way to recycle biowaste, to produce valuable renewable gas and biofertilizers. This potential of biogas and biomethane is also pointed out in the recent Farm-to-Fork strategy of the European Commission that encourages farmers to “grasp opportunities to reduce methane emissions from livestock by developing the production of renewable energy and investing in anaerobic digesters for biogas production from agriculture waste and residues, such as manure.[3]

According Harmen Dekker, Director of the EBA, “this paper sheds light on the significant potential of biomethane to reduce emissions in the transport sector, which is currently underestimated. Biomethane is a readily available green fuel produced in Europe. The multiple socio-economic and environmental benefits associated to the deployment of this renewable fuel will directly benefit EU citizens. Biomethane is a no regrets option to decarbonise transport.”

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