Johan Grön: Biogas production is an excellent way to promote the circular economy

Johan Grön, President, Biogas, Gasum, considers biogas will be a key form of energy in combatting climate change. To date, only a fraction of biogas production potential has been harnessed.

Why is biogas a good choice as a source of energy?

Biogas is a completely renewable fuel and is an excellent source of energy, especially from the aspect of reducing carbon dioxide emissions. Use of biogas can reduce lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions by up to 90% compared with fossil fuel use. In addition, biogas is an integrated part of the circular economy since the biodegradable feedstocks needed to produce it are converted into energy and recycled nutrients. Use of biogas can also be easily included in the entire gas system because the infrastructure to use it already exists.

How does Gasum contribute to promoting the circular economy?

Biogas production plants are bio refineries at their best and excellent examples of the circular economy by turning waste into energy for industry, fuel for road and maritime transport and raw materials for industry. For example, our biogas production plant in Turku processes the region’s wastewater effluent into ammonia water for use as a process chemical in industry to clean water and flue gases. Recycled fertilizers are another concrete example of the circular economy. These are recovered from nutrients in the side streams of our biogas production and returned to the fields. Raw materials through food production are in turn returned to biogas production.

How has Gasum’s biogas business developed?

We aim to have quadrupled our current annual biogas production capacity to four terawatt hours by the end of 2024. The potential biogas production volume in Nordics is estimated to be around 20–40 TWh a year.

Our own production network and cooperation with partners is expanding as planned. Recent key events regarding the production network include Gasum’s acquisition of Skövde Biogas AB’s plant in Västergötland, Sweden and the biogas plant we opened in Turku which is our first plant in Finland to produce liquefied biogas. A new biogas plant in Lohja will complete by the end of this year.

In Sweden, we are partnering with, for example, Stora Enso at the paper mill in Nymölla, where Gasum is building a biogas plant which will turn wastewater effluent into liquefied biogas. Also in Sweden, Gasum has decided to build a biogas plant, which will use manure as the main feedstock, in Götene by the end of 2022.

How does the future in general look for biogas?

As far as combatting climate change is concerned, biogas will be highly significant in the transition towards carbon-neutral energy production. Gasum’s efforts to expand the gas infrastructure provide a sound platform on which to increase production and use. Also, regulation is taking a direction so that the role of biogas will increase.

Biogas production has enormous potential in the Nordics and just a fraction of this potential has been harnessed. We need both our own production and that of our partners to increase availability to an adequate level. At the network building stage, also national support systems and close cooperation with decision-makers play an important role. The key question is how broad feedstock flows can be cost effectively made available to production plants. There are many unutilized waste streams that could be harnessed as part of the circular economy in the Nordic countries.

What particularly interests you in working with biogas?

Earlier in my career I worked with environmental technology in the energy industry and in heavy industry, and water treatment has been particularly close to my heart. This was why I was interested in having the opportunity to be involved in developing Gasum’s biogas business.

" I’m pleased and proud to be able to tell about my work with clean energy and the circular economy. I’ve noticed that the cause is a concrete one and affects all of us, and so is also easy to get listeners to become inspired."

-Johan Grön, VP, Biogas

As a keen boater, I’ve earlier been concerned about the state of the waterways but have now noticed a change for the better. It has considerable significance, when re-using the organics nutrients in agriculture and industry. I know that also our activities are also relevant in this respect and it motivate my family also with me. I feel I get to work for a great cause every day.

17.11.2020

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