World Bioenergy Association releases biogas fact sheet

By Anna Simet | June 05, 2013

The World Bioenergy Association has made available a comprehensive fact sheet that discusses current and potential global biogas supply for a variety of uses or markets, including electricity, heat and transportation fuels.

The document is part of a five-part series being released by the WBA, for industry and media use as a verifiable, easily referenced source of information about the renewable energy industry.

The WBA emphasizes the great global potential for biogas, pointing to estimates that predict biogas could consist of around 6 percent of the global primary energy supply, or one-third of the current use of fossil gas. The group is advocating for all countries, developing and developed, to set up a biogas development plan with the target to use at least 30 percent of the biogas potential by 2030. These plans should only contain quantitative targets but also an array of measures and a system of monitoring to reach the targets, according to the WBA.

The new WBA document covers the cost of select biogas projects, gauging the investment at about 5,000 euro ($6,035) for an installation of about 150 kW in size. “The specific investment cost (per) kW or MW capacity is higher for smaller plants and lower for bigger plants,” it says.

It also details the composition of biogas by component percentage and potential annual yields by animal—for example, one milking cow producing 20 cubic meters of liquid manure per acre yields 500 cubic nanometers of biogas. Putting into perspective how many cows would be needed to power a motor generator of 100-kW electric output, the report indicates that with an electrical efficiency of 35 percent and an annual production of 800,000 kWh, 470,000 cubic nanometers of biogas would be required, or the equivalent of biogas output from a manure slurry of 950 intensively housed milking cows, 6,000 pigs or 45 hectares of maize.

Moving on to biogas use and applications, the report discusses biogas potential by country according to feedstock, recognizing that U.S. opportunities are vastly underutilized. There are about 2,200 sites producing biogas in the country: 191 anaerobic digesters on farms, about 1,500 digesters at wastewater treatment plants—only 250 of which use the biogas they produce—and 576 landfill gas projects. By comparison, Europe has over 10,000 operating digesters, and some communities are essentially fossil fuel free because of them.

The document closes with pointing out the economic and social benefits of biogas use, including increased employment, sustainable waste management and decentralized energy generation.

Read it here