Although it has a small share in the energy matrix, biogas and biomethane can grow up to 40% in the world energy matrix by 2040.
The Brazilian energy matrix is formed by several energy sources, 43% of which come from renewable sources, such as wind, hydraulic, solar and biomass. Although biogas still has a small representation compared to other options, around 1%, there is an expectation that the demand for this matrix will grow and that costs will be reduced.
The International Energy Agency (IEA) published, in 2020, a report presenting growth prospects for biogas and biomethane worldwide until 2040. With the collaboration of the Brazilian Biogas Association (Abiogás), the study showed that there is an availability of huge sustainable raw material, mainly in Brazil, which is still totally untapped. To better understand, read the content to the end.
The importance of biogas / biomethane in Brazil
The production of biogas and biomethane is essential, since this transformation helps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Thus, in addition to its great environmental importance, this energy source is strategic and competitive. First, biogas occurs in a high degree of decentralization. That is, it is possible to produce and consume it in the same place or transport it via Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) or inject it into gas pipelines.
Another point is that biogas is produced from the digestion of anaerobic bacteria from organic substrates, resulting in environmental sustainability and helping in the correct destination of the generated solid waste. This gas is potentially usable for generating electrical, thermal or automotive energy.
Biomethane is a gas from biogas and is obtained by removing water vapor, carbon dioxide, hydrogen sulfide and has greater combustion power than biogas. As an automotive fuel, it behaves similarly to CNG. Three Brazilian economic sectors are responsible for the biomethane production potential: sugar-energy, food production and sanitation (MSW and sanitary effluents).
Participation in the Brazilian matrix and prospects for the future
If landfills in the world had systems for transforming methane into biogas, it would be possible to reach 8% of the world’s potential. This production could reach three and a half times the current supply of biogas at a cost equal to or less than that of natural gas.
The study carried out by the IEA, based on the year 2018, showed that the production of biogas in Brazil was 35 million tons equivalent (Mtoe). Value well below the calculated potential, which was 570 Mtoe for biogas and 730 Mtoe for biomethane. The full use of the potential could supply 20% of the current gas demand worldwide.
The expectation is that the sector’s growth will be 40% in the next 20 years. The greatest opportunities are in the Asia-Pacific region, where natural gas imports are increasing, as well as North America, South America, Europe and Africa. As there is an increase in the availability of raw materials and an increasing improvement in the collection and management of waste, the trend is for the market to develop.
With the technologies, the cost of producing biogas and biomethane has become increasingly cheaper, in addition to encouraging the reduction of emissions of greenhouse gases that potentiate this production and increase competitiveness. For the president of Abiogás, Alessandro Gardemann, this type of gas will have a complementary role to that of natural gas, competing with other more expensive energy sources, such as diesel and LPG.
Therefore, biogas has a fundamental role in a scenario of sustainable development, which meets all the global goals set to face climate change, providing access to modern and cleaner energy.