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Consumption of green gas reaches all-time high during record Northern European summer

By State of Green, September 04, 2018

As Denmark sweltered during one of the warmest summers on record, consumption of biogas increased by more than 50 percent compared to the previous year.

Food scraps, manure, and other forms of rubbish. All these inputs are converted into biogas and subsequently injected into the national gas grid in Denmark – and the use of biogas is only increasing.

New figures from the state-owned company Energinet, which owns and operates the Danish gas grid, reveal that in the month of July this year, the share of biogas, relative to the overall consumption of gas, was 18.6 percent. This marks a new record and an increase of more than 50 percent when compared to July 2017, where the share of biogas amounted to 12 percent.

“These numbers are not only Danish records, but European ones as well. No other country in Europe has succeeded in injecting as much biogas into the grid and distributing it to consumers as we have in Denmark,” explained Jeppe Danø, section leader at Energinet, to the Danish national broadcaster, DR.

One of the reasons for this increase has been the unusually warm Northern European summer.

“Our gas consumption been low, due the heat, but biogas production has also increased– these two factors combined creates a high percentage of biogas,” said Jeppe Danø to DR.

-Related news: Denmark’s first organic biogas plant inaugurated

Biogas creates a better image for farmers
One of the farmers benefitting from the increase in biogas is Gert Elbæk from Bogensen, which is located on the Danish island of Funen.

“It gives me a greener image – and as a farmer, I need that, so I’m happy”, he says and continues:

“It’s good to not have all the evaporation of methane gas . We should all be grateful for this – and I get better fertiliser for my fields, that’s thinner, odour-free and seeps faster into the ground – and I get a better plant production, so that’s great for me too”.

So far, there has been no financial benefit for Gert Elbæk, but he still sees it as a win-win situation.

“It’s a great feeling to be part of a green initiative such as this one. We transport our manure and deep litter to the biogas plant, where it is transformed into something more climate-friendly that is better for our crops as well”.

A green energy source
According to Jeppe Danø, biogas gives consumers access to a green energy source, which reduces CO2 emissions from the energy system.

“It’s important, as we facing a huge transition of our energy system and our society. A transition, where we have to attain a CO2 neutral energy system by 2050. To reach that goal, it is critical that we reduce CO2-emissions from the energy we consume” Jeppe Danø explains to DR.

In this transition, biogas plays a key role.

“Biogas is the beginning of the enormous green transition, which we have initiated in the entire gas and energy system – and the amount of biogas will increase over the next couple of years, and towards 2030, and other forms of green gas will also be added to the gas grid” said Jeppe Danø to DR.

Ole Hvelpund, who is the CEO of Denmark’s largest producer of biogas, Nature Energy, agrees.

“The numbers provide clear evidence of what the politicians want– namely to get more biogas into the gas network. We are on a clear path to reaching our goals” he tells DR and continues:

“We are going to grow substantially. It’s difficult to give a precise number, but we have recently built five new plants, and are about to commence construction of two new plants – so we are increasing from 5 to 7 plants now. The large plants we are building are being constructed in order to reduce the price of biogas”.

So what does this mean?

-Related news: The Danish gas grid could be filled with green gas in 2035

In order to keep pace with developments, more plants that are larger are needed. Therefore, Nature Energy is planning to invest DKK 100 million (EUR 13 million) to expand their pre-existing plant in Bogense. This will allow them to produce double the amount of biogas that is currently produced and plans for more plants in various locations in Denmark are underway.  For example, a plant in Korskro which is close to the Danish town of Esbjerg, is in the last stages of construction and when finished, will be one of the world’s largest biogas plants.

“We think this is an area we can invest in , where we can help create knowhow and contribute to development of specific competencies that can be valuable for Denmark – in the form of exports, so we can earn some of the funding that we have previously received,” said Ole Hvelplund to DR.

Over time, CO2-neutral biogas has the potential to replace natural gas completely.

“If everything goes well, and we manage to maximise the utilisation of resources from agricultural and household residuals, biogas could be able to cover our entire gas consumption by 2035” predicts Jeppe Danø.

Biogas facts:

  • The amount of green gas in the gas grid increased from 133.7 GWh in July 2017 to 188.1 GWh in July 2018.
  • If the production of biogas continues at the same levels as in July this year, biogas could cover 8 percent of Denmark’s annual gas consumption.
  • Growth in biogas production is predicted to continue.
  • It is expected that in 2019, the percentage of biogas as a share of total gas consumption, will represent more than 10 percent.

Source: Energy Supply

Photo credit: Nature Energy

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