Biomethane development will help meet environmental targets | Energy transition and biofuels

5 June 2023 | Knowledge, News, The Right Focus

Environmental issues are profoundly and irreversibly changing every area of our lives. As the energy transition continues, it is necessary to gradually shift from the use of carbon-intensive energy sources (i.e. mainly fossil fuels) to renewable (RES). Examples of such renewable sources include solar, wind and hydroelectric energy, and also various types of biofuels. The latter may be of particular interest to today’s economy, as the characteristics of biofuels largely resemble those of existing fuels. This means that current infrastructure could be used without modification, or with some slight adaptation. Biofuels may also be attractive to industry at large, which – in order to meet the environmental objectives of its ESG policies – can thus increase the share of renewable fuels for its own production needs.

What is biomethane

Biofuels can exist in different states – gaseous, liquid or solid. Biogas is an example of a gaseous biofuel, resulting from the processing of organic compounds contained in biomass (which can consist of e.g. sewage, plant materials or municipal waste). Biogas technologies are an environmentally beneficial solution as they allow the conversion of organic waste pollutants into new types of fuel that can be used to generate electricity or heat. Biomethane is a special type of biogas that has been purified to such an extent that its parameters resemble those of natural gas. As a result, biomethane can be regarded as a renewable alternative to conventional fossil fuels.

Prospects for biomethane production in Poland

Although the share of renewable energy sources in the Polish energy mix is increasing, technologies geared towards the production of biogas (including biomethane) generally seem to be stagnating. In this respect, Poland is lagging behind e.g. France or Germany, where the number of operational biogas plants is much higher. However, this situation can be viewed as a business opportunity, as the demand for new biomethane production projects is likely to increase. This is evidenced for example by the government’s bill amending the Renewable Energy Sources Act and certain other acts, which was submitted to the Sejm on 8 May 2023.

The bill is intended to enable the fulfilment of the EU’s energy and climate policy obligations, whilst exploiting the potential of the Polish economy (in particular the agri-food sector). The development of a precise legal framework for biomethane technologies, in particular by introducing a definition of biomethane, will allow investors to better evaluate regulatory requirements before deciding on new projects. As a result, in the near future it may be possible to inject biomethane into Polish transmission networks, thereby reducing domestic demand for natural gas.

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Wojciech Wrochna, LL.M.

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Wojciech Wrochna, LL.M.

Wojciech Wrochna, LL.M.

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