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Biomethane: an essential step towards the energy transition

09 April 2024

Article by Lucas Marcon, researcher in the field of Energy at INEGI

European impositions that aim to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050 and the negative impacts of climate change make a paradigm shift in the use of fossil fuels urgent. Biomethane, produced from endogenous resources, emerges as a sustainable solution capable of leveraging the energy transition and contributing to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. It can be used as a substitute for natural gas in the industrial, domestic and mobility sectors.

In recent years, in line with European Union policies, Portugal has made efforts to develop the renewable gas and renewable energy economies. However, the biomethane industry still has a long way to go towards an effective energy transition and there are obstacles to overcome in the sector.

Broader legal frameworks are needed, as is the simplification of project licensing and the end of limitations on access to gas transport and distribution network infrastructure. There is also a lack of incentives for research and development, as well as delays in the development of the biofertilizer market.

INEGI has been involved in projects that aim to boost this market at a national level. We support promoters at all stages, from biogas production to its purification to obtain biomethane, while also covering the requirements and specifications for storage and distribution.

With this know-how, INEGI launched the first edition of training on "Production and Use of Biomethane”. It starts on May 9th, in an online format, and will allow trainees to learn about biogas production processes, evaluate the economic viability and environmental impact of biomethane production and simulate projects.

What is being done to introduce biomethane into the energy matrix?

In the last decade, Portugal has invested in renewable energy as a way to reduce dependence on fossil fuels and boost decarbonization. In the specific case of biomethane, there is already the possibility of injecting renewable gases into the network. Anaerobic digestion technology is also available, but biomass gasification and power-to-methane systems still require further technological development and maturity.

The development of the biomethane market to decarbonize the national economy and reduce imports of natural gas has received attention from political power, and an action plan has been created.

The document sets ambitious goals. If the established objectives are achieved, by 2030, biomethane will replace 9% of natural gas consumption in Portugal. And almost 19% by 2040.

With these changes, it is estimated that there will be a reduction of 44.5 million euros in the costs of carbon dioxide emissions by the end of 2030. Savings of 91.2 million euros by the end of 2040.

Despite these and other advances achieved in recent years, Portugal continues to occupy 10th place in the European energy dependence ranking. To reverse this situation and move quickly with the energy transition, it is crucial to use all available endogenous resources, promoting the decarbonization of processes and products.

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