No more delays: Europe must be independent of the Russian gas supply, and it must be so before 2030. That is what the REPowerEU, the European Commission’s plan sets out to do, make EU countries independent when it comes to energy and gas, thus the transition to renewables must accelerate. So, we’ve thought of seeing what the state of biogas and biomethane plants is around Europe, the share that organic could cover in producing biogas and biomethane, and the importance of the screening process in producing high-quality end resources.

Biogas and methane in Europe, the market today

Today Europe produces around 15,8 billion cubic meters of biogas and around 2,43 billion cubic meters of biomethane yearly, according to a 2021 report of the European Biogas Association. And by 2030 the continent should produce 35 billion cubic meters of biomethane /year to cover the entire gas demand. Is this feasible? Well, it depends on many factors, but one thing is sure: we have to make better use of the resources needed to produce biogas and biomethane, meaning higher collection rates of organic waste, agriculture waste, livestock slurry, and maybe more sustainable second-harvest crops.

Italy, for example, produces around 4 billion cubic meters of biogas yearly, and part of it is being transformed into biomethane, which is worth about 0,2% of the total gas consumption (source: Elettricità Futura). If we take a look at Europe, there are 20.000 active biogas and biomethane plants (European Biogas Association) while France, Italy, and Denmark are the states with the highest number of biomethane plants.

Thus, there’s a very good market to further build on and reach that 2030 target, which is also to be sustained by the Governmental programs like the PNRR plan in Italy, for example, which is to release 1.9 billion euros to develop the biomethane market.

Organic waste to produce biogas and biomethane

Passing on the organic waste, in Italy, in 2018, according to CIC (Consorzio Italiano Compostatori), 17 million tons of separate waste were collected, the organic fraction representing 40% of the total sorted municipal waste, meaning 7.1 tons (28,6 organic waste and 11,8 % green waste). Out of these, 3.5 million tons of sorted organic waste were used by 56 composting and anaerobic digestion plants for the production of compost and biogas.

But this percentage, thus production as well, is about to grow as starting January 2022, two years before the measure gets introduced in the European Union states, Italy has made mandatory throughout the country the separate collection of the wet fraction, meaning more food waste will be recovered and turned into biogas, biomethane or compost. In fact, food waste could be the third resource to help reach the 35 billion cubic meters of biomethane in Europe by 2030, available data states.

Organic waste treatment with Ecostar dynamic disc screens

To make the most of the organic waste, the screening process in the overall recycling one is crucial. And that is where Ecostar technology makes a real difference, as the screens guarantee an optimal separation of the organic fraction (food waste and green fraction) from plastics or other non-compostable materials, as in the case of the MSW. The fraction is homogeneous, clean from impurities and the process is smooth thanks to our technologies DDS (Dynamic Disc Screening) and HDDS (Hyper Dynamic Disc Screening) which are best for organic waste screening, while making the entire recycling process more efficient and productive, with a significant impact on revenue, investment and operating costs.

As to the organic waste treatment for biogas and biomethane production, we are proud to be part of one of the biggest plants in northern Italy that uses complex technological procedures to produce compost and biomethane from domestic organic waste and green waste. The plant has been supplying biomethane to the network since 2018. The pre and post-mechanical processing sections were constructed by Ecoimpianti Srl, which chose Ecostar as a supplier, by installing three new Hexact disc screens and two loading hoppers for the plant.

The two Hexact disc screens pre-select the solid urban waste entering the plant, separating the organic fraction from the non-compostable fraction (overfill). A third Hexact disc screen is used downstream from the anaerobic digestion process to refine the compost before it is put on the market as a natural soil amendment. If interested in the numbers, here’s what you should know about the Hexact disc screens inside the plant:

  • Number of installed screeners: 03
  • Working length: 6000 mm
  • Weight: 7 t
  • Production capacity: 30 t/h
  • Installed power: 2 x 7.5 kW
  • Solid waste screening fraction: 0-70mm and > 70mm
  • Compost screening fraction: 0-40mm and > 40mm
  • Works with wet material
  • Anti-clogging system
  • Anti-wrapping system

Within this plant, the organic waste is subjected to the anaerobic bio-digestion for biogas production, and part of it is further upgraded into biomethane.

Concluding, there’s a clear and constant growth of the biogas and biomethane market that surely will accelerate in the very near future. There’s the need to be energetically independent and at the same time continue the work in fighting climate change. We have the resources to produce more biogas and biomethane and we have the technologies to do so, thus we are excited to see further developments in this valuable market.