EBA supporting the MetHarmo project – European harmonisation of methods to quantify methane emissions from biogas plants

Biomethane is chemically and technically the same substance as natural gas and consequently it can be blended with natural gas to mitigate the carbon footprint of our energy system. If not stored and used properly, methane is a GHG (greenhouse gas) with a climate-relevant potential: one methane molecule CH4 is 28 times more potent than one carbon dioxide molecule CO2.

The importance of methane emissions is recently being acknowledged on European level. Biogas plants, just like any other technology along the gas value chain (drilling for natural gas, gas pipelines and engines, etc.) might have leakages that lead to methane emissions. It is crucial for the biogas industry to be aware of the importance of these negative effects on global warming and on the industry, itself.

Members of EBA SAC (Scientific Advisory Council) decided to include this important topic into their agenda. The DBFZ (Deutsches Biomasseforschungszentrum gemeinn├╝tzige GmbH – German Biomass Research Centre) is coordinating the MetHarmo project, funded in the ERA-NET Bioenergy Programme. To date, no common European standard is established to measure the overall emission rates of methane from biogas plants. One aim of the MetHarmo Project is the development of a common procedure to quantify methane emissions from biogas plants, which can be the basis for standardisation.

EBA supports the objective of knowledge transfer between stakeholders on a technical level and to the European biogas community. Stefanie Scheidl, EBA Technical and Project Officer, visited the MetHarmo project consortium during their first one-week measurement campaign in October. A second measurement campaign will likely follow in spring/summer 2017. This project gathers the main European actors involved in research on methane emissions, amongst others: DBFZ; BOKU University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences Vienna; University of Stuttgart; Energiforsk, Swedish Energy Research Centre; SP Technical Research Institute of Sweden; DTU Technical University of Denmark; NPL National Physical Laboratory from the UK and Boreal Laser Inc. from Canada

These research teams came together for methane emission measurements at the German Biogas Plant of the farmer consortium Bioenergie Geest GmbH in Apensen, near Hamburg. All partners were actively involved in emission measurements using on-site and remote sensing approaches. This first measurement campaign already showed that a well-operated biogas plant has only negligible methane emissions. The gained expertise will be concentrated into a joint harmonised approach for the quantification and evaluation of fugitive methane emissions.