At the beginning of February this year, the European Parliament backed two legislative proposals – a regulation and a directive, to facilitate the uptake of renewable and low-carbon gases, such as biomethane and hydrogen, into the EU gas market. In the amendments to the gas and hydrogen regulation, in line with the REpowerEU targets, MEPs said that by the end of 2030, member states should ensure collectively at least 35 billion cubic meters of sustainable biomethane, with the aim of replacing 20% of Russian natural gas imports with a sustainable, cheaper and locally produced alternative. According to the World Biogas Association (WBA), biomethane has the potential to substitute 993 to 1380 bcm of natural gas, equivalent to 26-37% of the current natural gas consumed globally. In Poland, it is estimated that this green renewable fuel could cover up to 60% of today’s national demand for natural gas.
According to the GasForClimateReport, Poland – which according to estimates may produce up to 8 billion cubic meters of biomethane per year, ranks among the top five EU countries with the highest potentials. “If Poland produced at least part of the estimated biomethane volumes, it could significantly reduce its dependence on imported fossil fuels. Meanwhile, the absence of long-term regulatory and legal framework constitutes the main barrier to the deployment of renewable energy sources market,” – said Michal Tarka, Director General of the Polish Biomethane Organization.
It is expected that the draft act on the amendment to the Renewable Energy Sources Act will introduce effective support schemes stimulating biomethane market development in Poland. The draft includes proposals of new regulations addressing key barriers. Key support measures to be implemented include the introduction of biomethane’s legal definition, the integration of biomethane plants into the gas grid and the establishment of standards on biomethane in agreement with injections needs. “The same applies to the introduction of investment and construction facilitation. If these key regulations are not updated, the deployment of biomethane in Poland will be very challenging,” – added Michal Tarka, Director General of the Polish Biomethane Organization.
The development of a green energy market will also lead to the creation of new jobs. According to the European Biogas Association (EBA), the production of biogas and biomethane has already created 210,000 green jobs in Europe. A new report from the EBA published in February 2023, shows that biomethane production could support the creation of 280,000-490,000 jobs in 2030 and between 1.1 and 1.8 million jobs across the value chain in Europe by 2050. The report also shows that in 2030, the whole system benefits of biomethane production in the EU27 + UK could range from 38-78€ billion per year, rising to 133-283€ billion by 2050. These figures are comparable to the GDPs of Luxembourg and Finland in 2021 respectively.
Several EU countries have already decided to bet on green gas from renewable energy sources. France, which had only three biomethane plants in 2013, and already as many as 365 in 2021, plans to reach a 10% target for renewable gas by 2030. The Austrian government also plans to replace imported gas from Russia with biomethane by 2030, which should account for 11% of the total volume of “blue fuel.” Denmark wants to become an absolute record-breaker in biomethane production, by replacing 100% natural gas with biomethane by 2030. Currently, the country has developed projects for 54 biomethane plants, with more than another 70 in the pipeline.
To date, not a single biogas upgrading plant has been launched in Poland. According to Michal Tarka, Director General of the Polish Biomethane Organization: “2023 is a year of opportunity for us to join countries that are consistently ditching Russian fossil fuels and replacing them with their own green and renewable energy sources – including biomethane. It is absolutely necessary that a long-term stable regulatory framework, covering the overall value chain of biomethane, is created to unlock the biomethane potential in Poland. The Polish Biomethane Organization was established to actively support the deployment of the biomethane market in Poland.”
Biomethane is the purified form of raw biogas that has the same chemical composition and energetic properties as fossil-based natural gas. Biomethane is a zero-emission fuel, which makes it fully environment friendly. As a renewable source, it can be used for heating purposes and as fuel for vehicles. It can also be used for electricity production. The biomethane plant is the hub of the circular economy as waste from industrial processes, water management and agriculture is converted into renewable energy, helping to avoid emissions.
About the Polish Biomethane Organization (PBO):
The Polish Biomethane Organization (PBO) was established on September 6, 2022, and represents industry experts and leading fuel, energy and heating companies operating in Poland. There are currently 540 biomethane plants in Europe. The PBO members include: Veolia Energia Polska, Orlen Południe, Gas Transmission Operator Gaz-System, Duon Dystrybucja, Go&Biogas, Selena Green Investments, Unimot, Atrem, the Association of Sugar Producers (groups: Krajowa Grupa Spożywcza, Nordzucker, Südzucker, Pfeifer&Langen), Łukasiewicz – the New Chemical Syntheses Institute (INS) and SMM Legal Energy. The PBO advocates for the development of the biomethane market to accelerate Poland’s energy transition and independence from external energy supplies. The PBO represents the interests of the associated members not only at national, but also at international level.