Efficiency and profitability – Keys to the circular economy
The circular economy as we see it – is all about the more sustainable use of natural resources through efficient reuse and recycling to minimize or even eliminate waste.
The biogas production process is a forceful example of how to get the most out of raw materials and enchace circular economy. We are eager to provide our customers with availability of biogas for user in industrial processes and as transportation fuel. Naturally we want to ensure a sustainable approach – both environmental and economical feasible aspects, througout our integrated operation from "feedstock to us and reuse".
Biogas is a low emission fuel that is produced from e.g. agricultural, industrial and household waste. This is how bio-based material can be re-used as energy, thereby reducing the energy lost and particulate emissions from waste combustion. Nutrient residues arising as a by-product in biogas production can be returned to the food chain as a fertilizer or processed for industrial needs to replace mineral or fossil nutrients and fertilizers.
Under the EU’s Circular Economy Package, the rate of recycling municipal waste must be increased 65 percent by 2035, compared to the present level.
One of the key issues in biogas production is the availability of feedstock: where can we get enough feedstock and what other feedstocks can be used in biogas production besides the already familiar biowaste, industrial by-products and sewage sludge as well as agricultural and industrial sidestreams? Large volumes of feedstock are required to ensure cost-effective biomass processing and biogas production. A network of fairly large biogas plants, like Gasum’s, further improves economy of scale and efficiency, and allows biomass processing to be optimized between plants depending on, for example, logistics, capacity, market conditions and different feedstock fractions.
The circular economy and biogas production are ways to combat climate change. Gasum has circular economy cooperation with, for example, Stora Enso in Sweden, where a biogas plant to be built in conjunction with a pulp and paper mill will convert the organic material in the mill wastewater to renewable energy in the form of a fuel for cars, buses and trucks. In Turku, Gasum recovers valuable recycled nutrients from wastewater sludge and the biogas fuel produced from biomass goes into the tanks of gas-powered vehicles.
We need to expand and optimize the feedstock use to further increase the biogas production volumes. As an example Gasum is working to explore large-scale biogas production from animal manure and other agricultural feedstocks. Here, we are relying on Gasum's knowledge from our nordic experiences with similar manure-based biogas production in Sweden. However, to initiate such large circular economy type of cooperation throughout the value chain and finally provide economically feasible transportation fuel, it requires a committed government participation!
To summarize, we are committed "in the long run" to develop a large-scale and sustainable biogas availability with efficient biomass processing, biogas production, recycled nutrients and fuel supply througout the Nordic region.
Writer is Vice President of biogas business in Gasum.