The upgrade to biomethane allows extending biogas applications to transport sectors, supporting EU goals toward carbon neutrality. Biomethane produced from biogas upgrading can today rely on a large number of plants, estimated by the European Biogas Association in over 17000 in 2016, for a total installed capacity of 9985 GW (EBA, 2017).
After 2020, biogas and biomethane will count towards the 32% target of renewable energy share of the EU energy consumption, and towards a sub-target of minimum 14% of the energy consumed in the transport sector by 2030 (REDII).
In this framework, the paper aims to define the current market penetration of biogas upgrading technologies. A database has been created for EU-28, to highlight the relative importance of each technology. Based on the database, a EU production potential is defined, along with the EU demand potential for transport, in order to verify the match between supply and demand. The analysis of the current state of play of the sector suggests that a large potential can be foreseen for near future; the expected increase in biomethane production is based also on the possibility to convert residual feedstocks, such as Municipal Solid Wastes.
In this work a moderate technology penetration scenario has been set for EU-28, reaching a potential for biomethane of 18 billion m3/year in 2030. A large share of this potential can be devoted to transport, with a relevant impact on the sector. LNG appears suitable for pushing the market uptake of biomethane in the transport sector. Among the potential uses of biomethane for transport, it is worth considering that the natural gas use in the maritime and internal waterways sectors is getting momentum.
The current analysis aimed to highlight the potential of renewable energy-based alternatives to natural gas. Eventually, it is worth noticing that the real market deployment of this potential will be determined by the energy market conditions, and by the member states capability to stimulate the industry through a coherent set of supporting initiatives.