Commission acknowledges benefits of natural CO2 storage and utilization, applied in biogas production

Brussels, 15 December 2021 – The European Commission Communication on Sustainable Carbon Cycles acknowledges CO2 capturing and storing as necessary solutions to reach climate-neutrality by 2050. The communication encourages practices such as carbon farming, as well as the use of bioenergy combined with carbon capture and storage or utilization. These practices are already being implemented by biogas and biomethane producers across Europe. The communication is therefore a positive step towards the full recognition of the environmental benefits of sustainable biogas and biomethane production.

The European Commission today launched an action plan to incentivize practices that increase carbon sequestration, including Bioenergy Carbon Capture and Storage or Utilisation (BECCSU) and nature-based solutions such as carbon farming. The biogas and biomethane industries welcome that the scope of carbon removals in the European Commission action plan is enlarged to CO2 capture from the combustion or fermentation of biogenic CO2. Indeed, a wide framework for carbon removals that includes BECCSU will support producers of renewable gases to supply larger volumes of negative emission biomethane and recycle biogenic CO2 for the circular benefits of the whole economy.

Biogas and its upgraded form, biomethane, are already playing an important role in reducing CO2 emissions by replacing the use of energy from fossil fuels in electricity, heating and transport sectors as well as in energy intensive industries. If we take biomethane, for instance, by 2030 biomethane production in Europe is expected to reach more than 350 TWh, or 33 billion cubic meters, avoiding about 110 Mt CO2eq emissions.

The CO2 released in the production of biogas and biomethane comes from biomass, not from fossil sources, and is known as biogenic CO2. During the production process, the carbon contained in the biogenic CO2 can be applied and stored in the soil as organic fertilizer by using digestate, a co-product of biogas production. This increases the amount of CO2 stored in the soil, reducing its presence in the atmosphere in line with BECCS practices. As last step in this sustainable carbon cycle, the industry can recover the biogenic CO2 from biomethane upgrading and use it in various applications, including in the food sector. 1 tone of biomethane can approximately produce 2 tons of biogenic CO2, making the potential of the sector to carbon capture, storage and utilization non-negligible.

The biogas and biomethane industries also welcome the recognition of carbon farming as a sustainable carbon removal solution in this EU action plan. Farmers can increase carbon sequestration in their soils combining agricultural activities with renewable energy production through biogas. Anaerobic digestion brings significant benefits when combined with sustainable cultivation systems such as regenerative agriculture techniques, crop rotation and the use of organic fertilization. These cultivation methods reduce soil tillage and keep the farmland ‘photosynthetically active’ for as long as possible throughout the year.

Fanny Lamon – EBA Communications Officer