Austria: Increase in the production of biogas for electricity generation and biomethane
This year two large biomethane plants were connected to the grid in Austria. The amount of biogas fed into the grid was 52% higher than last year.
Association of Gas and District Heating Supply Companies (FGW) points out that contrary to electricity generation, there are no incentives to connect biogas plants to the natural gas grid, but rather numerous obstacles imposed by gas and heat distributors. In Austria biogas is becoming an important source of energy generation with over 300 plants that produce 550 GWh annually which can cover the demand of 16,000 homes.
Michael Mock, the director of FGW and spokesman of Gas Initiative explains the rapid development of the sector: in 2013 a total of 55 GWh worth of biomethane were produced, during the first 4 months of 2014 already 35 GWh were produced, a 52% increase.
Biomethane is treated as normal gas, while electricity produced from biogas has a special environmental tariff. According to Mock, a reform is needed if Austria is serious about reducing its particle and CO2 emissions
Before being injected into the gas grid, biogas (50% to 75% methane) has to be upgrades to at least 98%. The first upgrading plant was built in 2005 and currently there are nine feeding seven million cubic meters of biomethane in the grid. According to FGW, there is potential to produce up to seven hundred million cubic meters of biomethane.
Two new big plants
In Lustenau, 18,600 t of waste are turned into 50 million kWh every year. No energy crops are used, only organic waste from the region of Voralberg, and the energy powers 300 homes. „This is energy from the region and for the region“, explains the engineer Johann Böckle of Vorarlberger Energienetze GmbH.
There is potential to power 3,000 homes is Voralberg. Besides, the additional price a year per household is only of 80 to a 100 additional euros a year. According to Mr Böckle, this is a difference that the people of Voralberg to are ready to pay for clean energy and energy security.