Poland has a strategic interest in achieving the maximum level of energy security, including, above all, full energy independence. The EU is determined to steer away from Russian gas while holding climate change mitigation efforts up, by expediting the production and uptake of renewable energy. 2021 saw a 20 percent increase in biomethane production and a total of 3.5 billion cubic metres (bcm) produced. According to the Polish Biomethane Organization (POB), biomethane aka renewable natural gas, will play a pivotal role not only in providing renewable energy, but above all, in delivering energy security and independence, which is in line with the goals of the Energy Policy of Poland until 2040 (EPP2040) and the European Green Deal.
As the recognition of biomethane production benefits is growing, the number of biomethane plants in Western Europe is increasing. There are currently more than 1000 biomethane plants registered – a significant increase from less than 500 units in 2018. In the context of uncertainty of energy supply, countries are forced to change their approach to ensuring energy security towards a greater diversification and independence. A sudden shift from fossil fuels to renewable energy is not possible at the moment. For this reason, local biomethane production will play a pivotal role in delivering local energy security
According to the PBO, which represents industry experts and leading fuel, energy and heating companies operating in Poland, strategic goals are equally important as environmental and economic ones, when discussing and making decisions about the deployment of the biomethane market. Biomethane, which is environmentally friendly, is advancing the role of renewable energy sources (RES) in boosting Poland’s economic growth. Biomethane is also an ideal substitute for natural gas, contributing to making the Polish energy sector independent of geopolitical turmoil and enhancing local and national energy security.
The Energy Law defines energy security as “the continuous availability of energy sources in a reliable, economic and environmentally safe way”. Biomethane matches this definition perfectly. It can be produced in every municipality and injected directly into the existing gas infrastructure – once the technical standards are met, and the whole production chain can be set up and operated decentrally and locally. According to independent sources, Poland may produce from its waste up to 8 billion cubic meters of biomethane per year, which accounts for 60% of the volume of gas currently imported.
“If adequate support for the development of the biomethane sector is provided, this fuel will cover almost half of Poland’s demand for natural gas today. While nuclear power will take years to develop before being able to deliver energy security, and hydrogen technologies are still researched and developed, biomethane is already well-established in Western Europe,” – stressed Michal Tarka, Director General of the Polish Biomethane Organization.
According the European Biogas Association (EBA), a record number of new biomethane plants (184) started production in 2021 and became operational within 2022. None have been built in Poland so far, despite being amongst the top five EU countries with the highest potentials. “As a country highly developed in agriculture, Polandhas the opportunity to become a leader in biomethane production. But first, a long-term stable regulatory framework must be created as soon as possible, to ensure the economic viability of long-term investments in biomethane plants. This is why the Polish Biomethane Organization is actively working on addressing the barriers and regulatory risks hampering the development of the sector,” – concluded Michal Tarka, Director General of the Polish Biomethane Organization.
Currently, the PBO is working on a report that will provide an in-depth analysis of current legal framework on biomethane at both the national and EU level, and include recommendations of the best organizational, legal and technical solutions for the biomethane-driven energy transition.