Biogas opportunities, here and abroad

By Erin Voegele | June 21, 2012

If Pike Research is correct, the global biogas market could almost double in the next decade, from a $17.3 billion industry in 2011 to$33.1 billion in 2022. I hope they are. Needless to say, that level of growth could bring significant benefit to not only the environment, but the economy as well, as the development of renewable energy projects support jobs and the manufacturing sector.

Pike attributes the results of its analysis to several factors, including increasing demand for distributed generation, tightening environmental regulations and accelerating infrastructure development for natural gas and vehicles powered by natural gas. Pike also noted that As the German biogas market nears saturation, many design-build firms and project developers are looking to tap into opportunities in other areas of Europe, the Americas and Asia.

That said, Pike’s analysis stressed that low prices for fossil-based natural gas could restrict market growth. Unless policy incentives are developed, that is.

California is one state in the U.S. that is working to develop such incentives. The most recent version of a state bill, S.B. 1122, could create powerful local incentives in the state to support small-scale biogas projects.  

Specifically, the bill would direct the California Public Utilities Commission to create a special procurement process to obtain up to 250 MW of electricity from biogas and biomass projects that produce less than 5 megawatts. The 250 MW of power would be divvied up between five categories, including dairy digester gas, wastewater treatment biogas, agricultural biomass and biogas, biomass that is byproducts of sustainable forest management, and landfill gas an organic waste diversion. Each of the five categories would have its own mandate.

The American Biogas Council called for its members to submit letters of support to California lawmakers before the end of business June 21, as the legislature is expected to address the bill on Monday. Hopefully members of the California legislature will recognize the opportunity projects these projects could offer to their local communities. Here at Biomass Power & Thermal, we’ll be keeping our fingers crossed that the measure becomes law.