The world's biogas and biomethane supplies could meet 20% of global gas demand while reducing greenhouse gas emissions, according to a recent report by the International Energy Agency (IEA) on Friday.
The IEA explained that biogas offers a local source of power and heat for communities, as well as clean cooking fuel for households
“Modern societies and economies produce increasing amounts of organic waste – such as agricultural residues, food waste and animal manure – that can be used to produce biogas and biomethane, clean energy sources with multiple potential benefits for sustainable development,” the IEA said.
It added that upgrading biogas to biomethane would bring all the energy system benefits of natural gas without the associated net emissions.
“Biogas and biomethane can play major roles in a sustainable energy future, but for the moment we’re missing out on this opportunity to cut waste and cut emissions,” said Fatih Birol, the IEA’s executive director.
He recommended that a push from governments could give biogas and biomethane the necessary momentum, with benefits across energy, transport, agriculture and the environment.
According to the IEA’s report; the Outlook for Biogas and Biomethane, the wide-ranging potential of biogas and/or biomethane extends to any part of the world while the feedstocks to be used for these purposes are set to grow by 40% by 2040.
The greatest prospects are in the Asia-Pacific region, where the demand and imports of natural gas have risen rapidly in recent years. Nonetheless, North and South America, Europe, and Africa offer major opportunities also, the report said.
Most of the biomethane products analyzed in the IEA study are currently more costly to manufacture than their region's predominant natural gas costs, but the cost difference is expected to decrease over time.
“Recognition of the importance of reduced carbon dioxide and methane emissions goes a long way in enhancing biomethane's cost-competitiveness,” it said.
The report confirms that the production and usage of these gasses bring the concept of a more sustainable economy in which materials are continually recycled and reused, and in which the increasing need for energy supplies can be fulfilled while still providing greater environmental benefits.
“As governments seek to accelerate their clean energy transitions, they should not forget the importance of low-carbon gases such as biomethane and biogas,” Birol said, adding that among other benefits, biogas and biomethane also offer a way to bring rural communities and industries into the transformation of the energy sector.
By Sibel Morrow