Press Release – IEA Bioenergy Launches Today a New Report on the Integration of Biogas Systems into the Energy System

Sep 2020

IEA Bioenergy has launched a new report today, carried out under its Task 37 (Energy from Biogas), addressing the flexibility of biogas systems.

The perception of the role of biogas has changed over the years. Biogas was traditionally seen as a means of treatment of a range of wet organic wastes (from municipal, industrial and agricultural sources), more recently as a source of renewable energy. The end use of biogas was initially dominated with production of combined heat and power; more recently upgrading to renewable gas in the form of biomethane either injected to the gas grid or utilized as a transport fuel has increased.

The next stage of the biogas industry will be associated with a fundamental change in future renewable smart energy systems. The structure and characteristics of energy provision as well as energy consumption will evolve with the transition to a more sustainable and decarbonized economy with significantly larger proportions of variable renewable electricity (solar and wind power) in the energy mix. Consequently producers and consumers will face significant changes in the energy market, particularly associated with times of production of energy and times of use of energy. The integration of energy vectors will be essential in facilitating PV during daylight hours, wind power on windy days and renewable sources of dispatchable energy such as from bioenergy.

Biogas can play an essential role (together with PV and wind) as part of a virtual power plant in local distribution energy grids. Biogas can couple the electricity and gas grids when serving as a biological battery. Biogas systems have a role to play in the future electro-fuel market using hydrogen from electricity to react with CO2 in biogas producing biomethane and increasing the output of biomethane (typically by 70 %).

The biogas plant operation itself can be controlled extensively and with this control comes high levels of flexibility. This is a huge advantage over other renewable energy systems.

Biogas systems:

  • have a very positive attribute of being dispatchable but furthermore can be ramped up and down to match the vagaries of temporal mismatch between variable renewable energy supply with the demand for a variety of energy vectors.
  • can be a node of integration between electrical and natural gas grids in providing a sink for electricity (through power to gas systems) that would otherwise be curtailed or constrained and an enhanced producer of green gas for injection to the natural gas grid for use as a source of electricity, heat or advanced transport fuel.

Biogas offers significant advantages where it can be used to displace fossil natural gas in existing infrastructure such as the food and beverage industry and in high temperature applications for material production. Biogas plants can provide a myriad of solutions to the many challenges of future agricultural and waste treatment infrastructures and to the circular economy approaches to production of transport biofuel. The flexibility and system integration described in this report will be a significant driver for biogas systems to be integrated to future energy systems as a means to facilitate intermittent renewable electricity.

Download the report here

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