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New Technology

Biogas-based electric power rather than electricity from fossil fuels is an option for reducing green house gas emissions. The positive effects are even greater if the biogas energy content is used in cogeneration systems and consumption of fossil fuel for heat is avoided.

Using biogas from organic waste flows may also make a very significant contribution to climate change mitigation. The natural decomposition of organic matter produces methane, which has a high global warming potential (25 times that of carbon dioxide). The global warming potential of these emissions is significantly reduced if the methane is used to generate electricity and heat.

1. Potential contribution to sustainable development

Global sustainable energy supply

Electric power from biogas represents a competitive option for ensuring decentralised access to electricity. The technology is available for small off-grid solutions to supply electricity to one or several users. This allows people and organisations to participate directly in their energy supply. Biogas electric power represents a powerful tool in addressing energy poverty.

Climate change mitigation

Greenhouse gas emissions from biogas combustion are climate neutral. Other types of emissions are comparable with those from energy generation using natural gas (possibly the cleanest fossil fuel). Emissions standards can therefore be met under proper combustion conditions and with the use of conventional exhaust treatment systems.

Millennium development goals

Generating electric power from biogas is already a commercial standard. The main components required (the biodigester and the engine-generator set) are well known technologies and widely available.

2. Environmental Issues

The biodigester and the generation set constitute the main investment outlay in terms of generating electric power using biogas. The resulting power generation costs depend heavily on the source of substrates. Biomass from waste flows often has no market price. The costs of substrates are negligible in such cases and only the costs of collection and transport activities need to be taken into account. The situation with energy crops is entirely different, however. The variability of market prices has a strong impact on the financial feasibility of a project.

References

  1. Institute for Energy and Environment (2007): Schlüsseldaten Klimagasemissionen, Welchen Beitrag kann die Biomasse zum Klimaschutz leisten?, (EN: Key data on climate gas emissions. What contribution can biomass make to climate protection?)
  2. Uwe R. Fritsche, Lothar Rausch and Klaus Schmidt (2007): Treibhausgasemissionen und Vermeidungskosten der nuklearen, fossilen und eruerbaren Strombereitstellung (EN: Greenhouse gas emissions and the abatements costs of nuclear, fossil and renewable energy supply)
  3. L’Observatoire des énergies renouvelables (Observ’ER) (2008): Biogas Barometer, Systèmes Solaires N° 186
  4. Energy Sector Management Assistance Program (ESMAP) (2007): Technical and Economic Assessment of Off-grid, Mini-grid and Grid Electrification Technologies