Austria: Natural gas sector to produce more biogas for gas grid injection
The gas sector in Austria decided to pro-actively lean forward against the rising image problem. Instead of natural gas, more biogas should be produced in Austria to be injected into the gas distribution system for multi-purpose use. In the future, biogas should be mainly used in the heating sector and less to provide electricity.
By 2050, the heating sector should be provided with 2 million m3 of renewable/green gas to supply all customers using gas and with connections to long-distance heating grids with renewable heat in Austria. 75% of the renewable gas should be covered by biogas from maize and corn straw, manure and sewage sludge. The residual 25% should be reached by producing renewable gases via the Power-To-Gas technology which uses excess electricity from solar and wind power to produce renewable gases via electrolysis.
Demand for even conditions
Currently, 14 biomethane plants produce around 25 million m3 of renewable gas to inject into the Austrian gas grid. Biogas plants which provide electricity and heat by burning the produced biogas directly in a combined heat and power (CHP) plant face major financial problems since their contracts to receive feed-in tariffs are phasing out. The follow-up contracts to receive further incentives are still under negotiation.
On the 9th of May, the consortium of Mayors submitted their petition on fair subsidy framework for biogas plants to the Chancellor’s Office. This initiative was supported by 500 operators and stakeholders of the sector protesting in front of the Chancellor’s Office.
Fair conditions for biomethane injection like other renewable energies are demanded. The complex process to produce biogas leads to the fact that biogas is more expensive compared to the current natural gas prices. Considering that biogas is produced in a sustainable way and contributes to greenhouse gas emission mitigations, the higher prices are justified.
Efficient biogas plants have to be two to three times in size than current installations and thus the incentive of an investment premium would be of high priority. Manfred Pachernegg, director of Energy Grids Styria (Energienetze Steiermark), explained: “The ideal output for efficient biogas plants would be 1,000 m3 per hour.”
Renewable/Green gas is of high importance for the future energy system and will provide a win-win situation: the gas infrastructure in Austria and Europe is highly advanced and could be used in the future to transport renewable gas. Thus, there is no need to invest into expensive reconstruction works for the energy system.
Demand of the Sector
Efficient plants should receive a prolonged feed-in tariff. The contingent should be increased to 5 times €12.5 million for plants with 62.5 MW instead of 25 MW. The necessary subsidy volume will decrease from €80 million to €63.5 million per year.
For more information, please consult this document (available in German).
More information on Der Standard: here.