A resource efficient, renewable and local fuel – Biogas sets an example for the society as a whole
Biogas is a fuel that enables the circular economy and greater resource efficiency. But its benefits don’t end there. As a locally produced fuel, it enhances self-sufficiency and security of supply, while decreasing the additional need for logistics.
If all production processes in society worked like biogas production, we would have no waste and our need for virgin raw materials would be significantly lower than today.
Biogas production takes resource efficiency to the next level. It utilizes industry side streams – organic waste from households, companies, and agriculture, and even wastewater sludge – and turns them all into a renewable, low-emission fuel: biogas.
In addition to biogas, the process produces fossil-free fertilizer for agriculture, and the nutrients can also be processed further. For example, a strong ammonium solution by Gasum is used to scrub flue-gases in power plants and industry.
“Most of the organic mass used for biogas production originates from the growth, production, and consumption of food. When that which has been grown in soil is recycled back into the soil at the end of its lifecycle, the nutrients will continue circulating and nothing will be wasted,” explains Ari Suomilammi, Gasum’s Head of Production.
When society is facing massive challenges such as climate change and biodiversity loss, recycling and the circular economy are approaches that should be adopted globally.
Local production lowers emissions and logistics costs
Since biogas is made with our waste, it can be produced where the waste is treated. Waste treatment facilities work locally, and biogas is one of the few fuels that can be produced locally.
Fuel that is produced from local raw materials and supplied to local traffic, industry and households doesn’t require a complex logistics chain, which means both lower emissions and lower costs.
“Gasum’s Big Five – the five new biogas plants in Southern Sweden – is planned on this principle. The plants utilize manure from the surrounding farms and supply local clients with biogas and fertilizer,” explains Suomilammi.
Local production also relates to biogas’ security of supply. It is a fully domestic fuel made with raw material – mostly organic waste – that society can’t
“The next big step would be to get all organic waste into circulation. Currently, up to 40% of mixed solid waste that is incinerated is still organic waste. This is something that everyone of us can contribute to by sorting their biowaste accordingly.”
Circular economy can turn waste into a real asset
Gasum’s goal is to supply the energy market with 7 TWh of biogas by the end of 2027. However, biogas production is highly scalable, meaning that it can also be scaled down as needed.
“For example, farms can produce biogas from their own waste for their own needs quite efficiently. This increases their self-sufficiency, as they can produce their own heat and power with biogas. This also makes use of their organic waste, such as manure, which biogas can also be produced from,” highlights Suomilammi.
If manure was spread straight onto the fields, the methane emitted by it would go straight into the atmosphere. When utilized in biogas production, the methane will be gathered and utilized as energy, thus removing the emissions.
The final digestate is returned to the farms as a ready-to-use biofertilizer. Manure is used for biogas production with other feedstocks that enrich the digestate with additional nutrients. This way the final digestate has a higher nutrient level than the original manure.
In the future, manure and mass-produced organic waste can even be transformed into an asset as across the European market, the use of organic side streams as raw material is increasingly generating value for their producers.