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Webinar recording on biogas from organic waste

By Platform

Most EU regions and cities are striving to increase renewable energy production on their territories to meet EU targets and foster local employment and tax revenues. While wind and photovoltaics are most popular with investors, municipalities and regions have a good reason to turn to biogas because it can help solve their waste management challenges.

In 2018, the revised Waste Framework Directive introduced stricter rules to guarantee the separate collection of waste streams including biowaste (from 2023). At the same time, it called for the diversion of biodegradable waste from landfill and incineration towards anaerobic digestion and composting and increased the overall recycling targets to 65% by 2035.

Most municipalities and regions have realised that they can only reach their recycling targets if they implement separate collection of biowaste and select a treatment that counts as recycling, such as biogas and composting.

To bring these solutions closer to policy makers, the Policy Learning Platform organised a webinar on 15 May, dedicated to biogas from bio-waste with examples from Finland, Bulgaria and Germany that illustrate the many different areas of application for biogas.

Webinar recording

Webinar agenda overview

Navigate to the sections most interesting to you by using the webinar agenda overview below! 

00:03:50 Introduction to the topic and the Policy Learning Platform services by Katharina Krell, Thematic Expert of Low-carbon economy. Access the presentation

00:11:00 Introduction presentation to the topic of anaerobic digestion and composting by Astrid Severin, Thematic Expert of Environment and resource efficiency. 

00:21:20 Presentation by Susanna Vanhamäki on the Päijät-Häme Waste Management strategy. Access the presentation

00:35:10 Q&A: Do you think it is easy to transfer this concept to another region or country? And if so, what are the main factors for success?  

00:36:50 Q&A: Why do you collect biowaste with packaging. Do you separate the packaging before the digestion process?

00:39:50 Presentation by Nikolay Sidjimov on the Perpetuum Mobile Albena project. Access the presentation

00:52:55 Q&A: Where do you see the future potential for biogas & composting in Bulgaria?

00:54:38 Presentation by Volker Kromrey on how biogas-powered district heating uses local waste streams and contributes to local energy independence. Access the presentation

01:08:30 Q&A: So far mostly agricultural feedstock was used in community biogas plants; how do you see potential for biowaste in future plants?

01:10:55 Q&A: What is the cost of the biogas installation for medium-sized family household?

Panel discussion

01:15:10 Q&A: What are the multiple benefits of biogas? 

01:18:00 Q&A: What is the role of regional and local policy makers to support biogas projects?

01:25:20 Q&A: Do you see added value of sending advisors to the municipalities to explain these concepts? 

Key Learnings

  • Biogas has multiple benefits: it can produce renewable electricity, heat, and transport fuels. It provides base-load energy 24/7 all year round. It is a means to manage local waste, both from agriculture, from companies, or the organic fraction of municipal solid waste. It closes the loop between waste and new valuable products, such as energy and fertiliser and fits perfectly in a local circular economy model. It reduces emissions. It has the strongest employment creation ratio of all forms of energy, and this employment typically stays in the region. It is a fully mature technology ready for wider roll-out.
  • Biogas needs a proper legal and economic framework to thrive as it connects to many disciplines and sectors. There is room for improving these framework conditions in most EU MS.
  • Since 2001, biogas has mostly been boosted by the Renewable Energy Directives that set targets and provided for support schemes. In the future, the new EU Waste Legislation with 65% recycling targets and the obligation to separately collect bio-waste from households by 2023 is likely to trigger the next wave of biogas development.
  • The challenge is to use the large resource of bio-waste in house-hold waste (30-55%) instead of wasting it by landfilling or incineration.
  • Educating policy makers and citizens that organic waste is not a waste but a resource and that is should be harvested.
  • Polls have shown that 53% of cities/region see potential for 1-2 new biogas plants within the next 5 years; 16% even see potential for more than that. Only 30% expect no new plants, either because they have already got many plants in the region (22%) or because there is no interest (8%). Those interested should start planning now and include biogas in their action plans for the next programming period.
  • Municipalities are responsible for waste management. They can invest in new biogas and composting plants for the treatment of their separately collected bio-waste from house-holds. This will help comply with EU waste legislation while creating more renewable energy. Such projects will be eligible for co-funding in the next ERDF programming period.
  • Biogas is also an excellent pillar for a rural municipality’s own energy supply, also providing heat to buildings through district heating. While the concept of ‘bioenergy-village’ is thriving in Germany, other countries could replicate it. To start, however, the legal framework from community energy projects should be provided. The role of public authorities is to take the political lead and also to commit the public buildings as first clients to the new district heating scheme. Experts from COALESCCE project can provide support here.
  • 48% of respondents have interest in new plants for bio-waste from households, and 33% are interested in biogas for rural communities’ energy auto-supply with district heating.
  • In general, biogas projects are complex, and interested public bodies would benefit from expert advice to properly prepare new projects.
  • New business models are necessary as feed-in tariffs are being phased out on most countries. Plants treating household waste should get a revenue for this waste treatment and recycling function.
  • Regions could kick-start new developments by making a regional biogas-potential inventory and geo-reference it, as done in Andalusia and by ADEME in France.

Follow-up activities

An online discussion for financing and business models will be proposed. Stay up to date on upcoming activities by signing up to the policy digest. You can choose the topics you are interested in and you will receive the updates straight in your inbox every three months! 

Additional resources

Image credit: Photo by Pixabay from Pexels