Biogas in Finland
Author: Essi Jyrkinen
Edited by: Hanna Joronen
Description of the product or technology
Biogas is produced from various types of organic matter, for example from logging residues, manure, sludge, industry by-products, energy plants and household organic waste. In Finland, biogas is mainly produced from sewage sludge and community waste as agricultural by-products and field biomass have the highest unused potential as the raw materials of the bioenergy production (Marttinen et al. 2015).
Biogas is produced through anaerobic digestion which takes about three weeks. The end product, biogas, is a mixture of gases - mainly methane (55-75 %) and carbon dioxide (25-45 %) (Mutikainen et. al 2016). Also some minor amounts of hydrogen, nitrogen and sulphur compounds are produced (Mutikainen et. al 2016, Åkerlund ). The relative amounts of produced compounds depend on the raw material (Mutikainen et. al 2016). Biogas is used in heat production or sold as gas for the industry. Some of it is used for transportation and in combined heat and electricity production. In order to get biomethane for gas-driven vehicles, biogas must be purified from carbon dioxide and other impurities (Gasum, Winquist et al. 2018). Biomethane can be used in liquefied form, too (Gasum).
Description of the market
In Finland, the total energy consumption in 2017 was 377 TWh of which the consumption of renewable energy was 136 TWh (Tilastokeskus 2018). The consumption of biogas was 0,7 TWh, approximately 0,5 percentage of renewable energy use. Electricity production from biogas has remained at the same level since 2011 due to the relatively low electricity prices (Figure 1). Instead, the heat production from biogas has gradually increased during the last 15 years (Figure 1).
Figure 1. Heat and electricity production from biogas 2003-2017. The orange column is electricity and the light orange is heat. (Winquist et. al 2018).
Especially, usage of biogas in transportation vehicles has increased during the last years (Figure 2). The increase in the amount biogas-driven city busses and garbage trucks play a significant role (Winquist et. al 2016). Also, the amount of gas-driven private cars has increased recently (Winquist et. al 2016). There are 41 gas stations in Finland (NGVA). The price of transport biogas is currently 0,936€/l (Gasum).
Figure 2. Purified biomethane for transportation use 2003-2017 (Winquist et. al 2016).
The potential of the biogas production is estimated as high as 10 200 TWh which means that the current production of biogas is approximately 7 percentage of the overall potential (Winquist et al. 2018). Most of the potential comes from agricultural biomasses (86 %). Thus, the production of biogas could be increased significantly in the countryside. The rest from the potential comes from forest industry sludge, food industry by-products, community waste and biowaste (Mutikainen et. al 2016).
In Finland, the leading biogas producer is the state-owned Gasum. It produces biogas mainly from household waste and contaminated food lots from the industry (Gasum). The newest biogas plant was established in 2016. In addition, there is seven other biogas plants in Finland (Gasum).
Description of the policy measures
In Finland, the national energy and climate strategy aims at 80-95 per cent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 (Työ- ja elinkeinoministeriö 2017). This means the share of renewable energy in end use will be about 50 percentage. One of the aims to increase the self-sufficiency degree up to 55 percentage in the 2020s (Työ- ja elinkeinoministeriö 2017). As a member of the European Union, Finland is under European Union’s renewable energy directive which has targets for 2020 (Directive 2009/28/EC). Increasing the production of biogas and liquid biofuels and the development of the technology play a significant role in reaching those targets.
Biogas production/use in Finland is supported with several policy measures:
- Biogas feed-in tariff granted by Energy Authority (Finlex Data Bank 30.12.2010/1396).
- Investment support for biogas plant granted by Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment of Finland (Finlex Data Bank 1098/2017)
- Construction investment support for farms that want to build their own power plant for their own need, the support is granted by the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry of Finland (Finlex Data Bank 354/2011).
- Additional tax on driving power of biogas-driven vehicle is lower than that for diesel-driven vehicles (Traficom)
- A 1000-euro aid for car owners if a petrol/diesel car is converted to use biogas as a fuel during the period of 1.1.2018-30.11.2021. Application needs to be submitted and there are some regulations for the applicants (Traficom).
Evaluation of the effects of the measures
Encouraging EU policies help to promote the use of biogas and other renewable energy sources. Also, the benefits for environment, economy and climate are significant (Scarlat et al. 2018). Raw materials for biogas are often local and the finished product is considered as clean energy - those facts also encourages the use and production of biogas.
Although, the consumption of biogas is increased over the years in the production of heat, electricity and fuel, the overall consumption of it could be much higher, because there is definitely potential. To extend the production to the full potential, biogas should be made more known for the consumers. At the moment, there is a lot of discussion around the carbon-neutral methods in energy production. Therefore, biogas can become more popular and known among people.
Tax reductions and investment grants are often quite clear to understand and therefore they could be the most effective policy measures in order to promote the transformation from tradiotional ways of energy production to biogas production.
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