Addressing today’s challenges of reducing our dependence on fossil fuels and related emissions of greenhouse gases requires measures such as increased energy efficiency and replacement of fossil energy carriers with renewable ones.
Biogas can be produced from various kinds of organic material such as municipal and industrial waste, which dominate the current production. This is driven by existing policy incentives, which also promote the use of biogas as vehicle fuel. However, the lion’s share of the Swedish biogas potential remains essentially untapped within the agricultural sector, including feedstock such as manure, crop residues and dedicated biogas crops. If fully utilized, biogas from wastes and residues only could replace 10% of the vehicle fuels or 50% of the natural gas used in Sweden today. This implies that existing incentives must be strengthened to overcome today’s barriers, especially regarding the limited profitability in biogas production based on agricultural feedstock as identified in this thesis. In addition, the techno-economic performance needs to be improved, for example by reduced feedstock costs and increased methane yields. For low-cost feedstock, such as manure, measures to reduce the cost of capital and the related cost of operation and maintenance are especially important.
In Sweden 1.9 TWh biogas was produced in 282 plants in 2015. 63% of the production was upgraded to biomethane, 20% was used for heating, 3% for electricity, 10% was fladed and 2% was used for industrial purpose. Today 63% biogas is mainly upgraded to biomethane and used as vehicle fuel, which is 20% more than the year before.
In southeast Sweden there is a big untapped potential for biogas/biomethane production. The three counties have a lot of feedstock in form of manure. This is especially the situation in the costal Kalmar County that has a lot of farmland and feedstock. There are also slaughterhouses that deliver substrate to the biogas production and the altogether appox. 550 000 inhabitants in the region produce, of course, a lot of household waste and sewage sludge. During the last five years, four new biomethane plants have been built increasing the biomethane production from 10 to 75 GWh/yr.
Three new companies have recently been established by farmers. Yet one company wishes to increase their biogas production in order to be able to upgrade it to biomethane and another one wishes to double their production of biomethane. These are all companies owned by farmers that need to find ways to treat the manure in order to be able to develop their farms.
Two public procuments of busses, in Växjö and in Kalmar, in favour of biomethane have boosted the intreset to start biomethane production. But the traditional market for compressed biogas i.e. buses, garbage trucks and passenger cars is limited. In order to be able to start biomethane production, you need big quantities and long term contracts. This has increased the interest for liquefied biomethane since it can be used in heavy vehicles, martitime transports and industry as such or injected in natural gas. The problem is that it is more expensive to produce than conventional fuels and the fact that railway, maritime and flight transports are exempted for taxes makes fossil fuels in these sectors very cheap. To find a market for the biomethane potential that exists in our region is therefore one of the main challenges and to reduce the costs from biomethane production another.
During the first period of BiogasAction the Energy Agency for Southeast Sweden (ESS) has been working on different tasks in order to promote and fulfill the targets in BiogasAction.
The network Biogas Sydost has got five new members. These are Alvesta Biogas and More Biogas (biogas producers), Mörbylånga and Oskarshamn municipalities and KSRR that collects household waste from five municipalities to be processed in their pre-treatment plant and finally sent to an AD-plant to serve as feedstock.
The network has had altogether five physical meetings during the first intervention period with following agenda. The first meeting took place at the Municipality of Växjö on the agenda and was a follow up of regional targets for biomethane used in transport and information of forthcoming procurement of trains. The second meeting was hosted by E.ON and Växjö Motor Company, GNVs and distribution of biomethane. The third meeting was a presentation of More Biogas biomethane plant of the results obtained by a French student, from AILE, that had been practicing at the plant for nine weeks; Presentation of the Seafarm project by Ulrika Welander, Linnaeus University. The forth meeting took place at the Municipality of Ronneby for the inauguration of the new public refueling station. The fifth meeting took place at the local waste management company KSRR in Kalmar amd was a study visit at the pre-treatment plant for household waste.
Following events have been organized also during the first period of intervention for public officers and politicians as well as public in general to allow information exchange and knowledge transfer. An example was the EnergiTing Sydost 2016, a whole day seminar “Biomethane in transport today and in the future” at the annual energy conference arranged by Energikontor Sydost. The seminar targeted public administration and described municipalities as producers and consumers of biogas/biomethane, the benefits of local/regional grids, business opportunities for local companies as well as future opportunities and challenges for biomethane. The speakers came from both public and private sector from all over the country. Approx. 40 persons participated. Another event was the renewable fuels – network meeting in Växjö for municipalities and other public administrations. The topic of the day was comparison between different renewable fuels. Altogether 42 persons participated in the meeting. The last event organized was the clean vehicles day in Oskarshamn, during the day the PM made a presentation of GNVs as one of the solution for a fossil fuel free transport sector during an outdoor event aimed at public in general. In addition to presentations, the day gave many occasions to test cars that run on different renewable fuels and even to compete in eco-driving. Since the event was outdoors with no entrance fee or registration, it is difficult to estimate how many people actually participated.
In order to identify a new market for the compressed or liquefied biomethane that can be produced in our region. The ESS participated in the work to find a new renewable fuel alternative for the diesel trains that are still in traffic in Kalmar and the neighboring Jönköping Counties by leading a workshop with the title “How should the operations of trains on non-electrified railway lines become free from fossil fuels?” during one of the seminars arranged for the stakeholders and key actors in the region. The energy agency coordinated a pre-study to find out if it would be possible to identify a market for liquefied biomethane, if there was enough substrate to produce liquefied biomethane for a price that could be accepted by the market and were, in that case, the production and liquefaction should be located. Since the pre-study showed to be too big to be included in BiogasAction, a decision was made to do it as a separate project and apply for funding from the European Regional Development Fund. Nevertheless, the results from the work will even have impact on the results of this project.
A French agroengineer student, from another BiogasAction partner, AILE, made his practice at More Biogas during nine weeks in summer 2016. He worked with the odor from the biomethane plant, the condensate water, the ammonium losses. The results from these studies have been communicated to other biomethane producers on a network meeting.
Discussions are going on with the Linnaeus University of a possibility to build a permanent biomethane competence center with a laboratory at More Biogas premises. The background is the need to solve the problem with waste and manure management connected to biogas production since this issue is not included in any other strategies e.g. the food strategy. Other problems to be solved are high production costs. The suggested targets are: to create a knowledge platform for exchange of experiences and to generate new projects; establish long term cooperation with similar industries; create a platform for pilot studies; measures for product validation.
Several actions have been taken by the PM to support new producers and producers that wish to increase their production. The study visit to Sötåsen biomethane plant together with Hagelsrum Biogas, the County Administrative Board in Kalmar County, Puregas Solutions and Stefan Halldorf Konsult to learn about small scale biomethane production. It resulted in an application to the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency and this year Hagelsrum Biogas received 1.4 M€ from the agency to build an additional digester and an upgrading plant. The meeting with representants for new producers (Mönsterås, Mörbylånga and Falk Biogas) to start a “New producers group”, a platform for exchange of information and knowledge. The regional seminar to discuss the findings from the LBG project with the potential producers. This meeting was made in the scope of the LBG-project and will thus not charge this project. The meeting with a representant from Scania, Puregas Solutions, More Biogas and the new producers Mönsterås and Mörbylånga Biogas and Biogas Sydost discussed the potential market and how and if it is necessary to move further with our plans to produce LBG.
In addition the Project Manager has participated in one dialog meeting and one workshop with six Swedish municipalities (Swedish Energy Agency, Swedish Environmental Protection Agency, National Board of Housing, Building and Planning, Swedish Transport Administration, Transport Analysis and The Swedish Transport Agency) to discuss the new strategy for a fossil fuel free transport sector in 2030 that is under preparation. The topic was “How to move towards a fossil fuel free transport sector 2030.
The Energy Agency for Southeast Sweden (ESS) is the agency was established in 1999 as an EU project under the Association of Local and Regional Authorities in Kronoberg. The reason was the increased global and European focus on climate change, reinforcing the need for qualified and impartial players in the energy and transport field.
Since 2007 activities have been operated under the Energy Agency for Southeast Sweden Ltd. The company is jointly owned by an association where regional councils, counties and municipalities in Blekinge, Kalmar and Kronoberg are members. The Energy Agency’s approximately 25 employees work in all three counties with offices in Oskarshamn, Kalmar, Karlskrona and the headquarters in Växjö.