National strategy for biogas

Anaerobic digestion of suitable waste gives a valuable possibility to complete the plant nutrient circuit and thus gives a large economic benefits in addition to the biogas produced. This is the assertion of the Swedish Energy Agency, the Swedish Board of Agriculture and the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency in the sector-transverse biogas strategy that is being submitted to the government today.

The report entitled "A Proposal for a Sector-transverse Biogas Strategy" was commissioned by the government for purposes of increasing the use of biogas in both the short and long run. The Swedish Energy Agency, the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency and the Swedish Board of Agriculture are behind the report. In the report, it is ascertained that the economic benefits of biogas are more dependent upon how it is produced than on what it is used for.

"Society benefits from increasing biogas production with support and requirements where the emissions of methane to the atmospheres are subsequently reduced. This is predicated upon us increasing biogas production in the country more than two-fold," says Tomas Kåberger, Director General of the Swedish Energy Agency.

All biogas is not equally dependant upon support in order to compete and nor do all biogases bring about the same societal benefits. The preconditions involve the costs being highly variable depending upon precisely which raw materials are being used. The report shows that both the economic and the financial values are the largest, i.e. that there are both most inexpensive and best, in those cases where anaerobic digestion is a part of completing the plant nutrient circuit. The report reckons that the total quantity of biogas through anaerobic digestion may increase from the present approx. 1.5 to between 3 and 4 TWh.

"The proposal maximises the environmental and climatic benefits that can be obtained through anaerobic digestion. We wish to increase the biogas production that gives the greatest benefit, in other words from sewage sludge, food waste, restaurant and other foodstuffs waste as well as fertiliser. Biogas as a fuel ought to be given priority for heavy vehicles in urban environments, where the environmental effects give the greatest benefits," says Eva Smith, Deputy Director-General of the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency.

"Anaerobic digestion of fertiliser ought to be increased considerably, since it gives large climatic and environmental benefits. Among other things, it creates preconditions for agriculture to reduce the amount of its emissions of methane. At the same time, the profitability is not sufficiently good to achieve an expansion to any greater scale. Hence we are proposing a methane reduction support programme of SEK 0.20 per kWh of biogas produced based upon farmyard manure. There is also a potential for biogas production from crop remnants and crops such as grasslands. Much has already been done, and is being done at the farm level, but quite a lot also remains for biogas to be able to be a natural part of the agriculture of the future," says Christel Gustafsson, Unit Manager at the Swedish Board of Agriculture.