2.1.4 Scale-up of biomethane production

The growth of biogas production plants is flattening in the EU-27 with a yearly increase below 3% between 2014 and 2018, reaching about 16,693 biogas plants at the end of 2018. Germany is the largest player in the EU with 66% of all biogas plants, followed by Italy (10%) and France (5%).

Over the past decade, the number of biogas production facilities has grown in the EU (Figure 2‑13.), reaching about 16,693 plants at the end of 2018. The growth has flattened over the last 5 years with a 2% increase in the number of plants in 2018 relative to 2017, reflecting 303 additional biogas installations. The most significant growth between 2017 and 2018 was seen in Germany (+113 installations), France (+95 installations) and Sweden (+81 installations). At the end of 2018, all central-western EU countries had biogas production facilities (Figure 2‑13). The largest number of biogas plants in the EU are located in Germany (66%), Italy (10%) and France (5%).

Biomethane production and number of plants show a strong growth in the EU-27 with a ~17% increase in the course of 2018. This indicates a shift from biogas to biomethane production.

Thenumberofbiomethaneproductioninstallations is growing in the EU27 (Figure 2.13). In 2018, about 473 biomethane plants were in operation across the EU (610 plants across Europe).2 Germany, France, Sweden, Denmark, and the Netherlands combined represent about 90% of these installations. The number of biomethane production facilities in the EU continues to grow with a 17% increase in new installations in 2018 (12% across Europe). This growth indicates a shift from biogas to biomethane plants and comes from anaerobic digestion plants; thermal gasification plants are in an early commercial stage and are expected to scale-up starting in the mid-2020s.

A significant step up in biomethane production in the EU occurred around 2016; production has been steadily increasing, driven by EU and national policies to increase shares and stimulate the use of biomethane. Next to EU policies such as the Renewable Energy Directive (RED) II, many EU member states have implemented policies

supporting the production and use of biomethane, such as specific targets on biomethane production and use in France and Italy (see section 2.1.5).14 These policies are expected to enable continued growth. European biomethane production reached a total of approximately 23 TWh (~2 bcm natural gas equivalent) in 2018, of which about 17.3 TWh (~1.6 cm) was in the EU27. This is an increase of approximately 15% compared to 2017.

Biomethane is expected to provide a growing contribution to the EU energy system as outlined in the European Methane Strategy.35 At the moment, biomethane production is scaling up but possible other cross-sectoral effects that come from biomethane production can contribute to the system, such as waste use, rural development, soil improvement, and recovery. Further research on these contributions and their advantages is still required, but initial research shows positive signals. This report therefore does not focus on these possible other cross-sectoral effects.

Germany is the largest player in the European biomethane sector with close to 200 biomethane plants but growth levels are flattening. Largest growth in biomethane developments is taking place in France followed by the Netherlands and Denmark.

Since 2018, most central-western EU27 countries have biomethane production facilities, with the highest number of facilities in Germany, France, and Sweden. The UK also has a large number of biomethane plants, reaching 93 plants in 2018.

The EU27 countries showing the largest growth in the number of biomethane installations between 2017 and 2018 are France (+32 plants in 2018, totalling 76), the Netherlands (+12 plants in 2018, totalling 46), and Denmark (+9 plants in 2018, totalling 34) (Figure 2.14).5 Germany is the largest player in the EU with around 200 biomethane plants and approximately 10 TWh production in 2018, but growth levels are flattening due to changes in

national support schemes. France is an example of ongoing growth in biomethane production installations; in 2019, a new biomethane facility was opened every week. In addition, Denmark has financed the building of several large biomethane plants with a production volume well over 1,000 m3/ hr each, going up to 2,000 m3/hr and more. Such installations are about seven times larger than the current EU average, and both the sourcing of the feedstock and the redistribution of digestate back to the fields occurs within a range of 25 km.2

Scale-up of biomethane production

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