This is a debate article. The opinions expressed are the writer’s own.
DEBATE. Sweden could at least fivefold its biogas production in the next decade, writes Maria Malmkvist, Energigas Sweden.
We are a world leader in biogas in Sweden. But we have the potential to become even better, and produce even more climate-smart fuel from our food waste and other residual products. So far, we have only realized 5–10 percent of the technical production potential by 2030.
It certainly takes time to build a biogas plant, but Sweden could at least fivefold its biogas production in the next decade.
The interest in producing biogas is great. A review of ongoing planning shows that within the next few years, Swedish biogas production could increase by about 50 percent, given that the right conditions are in place. With that volume alone, we can replace, for example, 130 million liters of fossil petrol with renewable, sustainable biogas. The crux is that producers cannot put the shovel in the ground, as the long-term conditions for the biogas market are still uncertain.
When the Biogas Market Inquiry was presented just before Christmas 2019, there was a buzz through the gas industry, the inquiry was received as this year’s Christmas present. Since then, the government has passed a tax exemption for biogas for ten years, which is very good. In other respects, unfortunately, not much has happened with the proposals put forward by the inquiry.
In order for the biogas market to be able to take off in earnest, the comprehensive investment that the inquiry proposes is needed. Of course, we understand that there was a pandemic in between, which must be handled both medically and financially. But the fact is that the pandemic makes it even more important to now quickly make a workshop of the Biogas Market Inquiry’s proposal. Biogas Sweden can, wants and should be part of the green restart after the corona crisis.
It is of the utmost importance that the industry receives clear information as soon as possible about what the Biogas Market Inquiry calls support package I. Here, among other things, long-term production premiums are proposed for the country’s biogas producers.
The government needs to come up with a notification in the spring bill and with a sharp proposal by the autumn budget at the latest. The premiums must enter into force no later than 1 January 2022. Such a straightforward and clear message would enable the planned biogas production facilities to be realized, with great societal benefits as a result.
Both Sweden and the EU have set their sights on a circular economy. Biogas is one of the best examples we have of circularity. At the same time as we take care of residual products, we get renewable energy and nutrients for agriculture in the form of biofertilizer. Waste management goes hand in hand with a fossil-free development of road transport, shipping, industry and agriculture The biogas system also contributes with new green jobs and with export opportunities in an area where Sweden has unique expertise.
Premiums for the production of biogas should therefore be seen as payment for a community service. The investigation highlighted production premiums for biogas as a cost-effective measure in comparison with other possible climate and environmental measures. Such an approach is also reflected in the 133 consultation responses that were submitted to the Biogas Market Inquiry’s report.
In principle, all consultative bodies agree that biogas is good and something we should invest in in Sweden. They commend the inquiry’s “solid and impressive work” and essentially sign the proposals and assessments. Many want to see a national target for biogas production, in accordance with the inquiry’s proposal of 10 terawatt hours.
Recently, the government initiative Fossil-Free Sweden emphasized that such a goal is important for achieving the climate goals. At present, Swedish production is about 2 terawatt hours, so the development potential is great.
Most consultative bodies sign the production premiums proposed by the Biogas Market Inquiry – for production, upgrading and liquefaction of biogas. There are therefore all the prerequisites for a broad support for making a political workshop of the proposed premiums.
A thriving biogas market would contribute to a green restart for Sweden, and to a further imprint on the world map of those who are at the forefront of fossil-free development. Let’s take that chance. With the right long-term conditions, we can go far.
Maria Malmkvist, CEO of Energigas Sweden