Biogas is seen by many as a solution or partial solution that can replace fossil fuels. As a result of the climate crisis and the war in Ukraine, biogas has emerged as a sustainable alternative to tackle expensive energy prices and to utilize already existing resources.
– One of the advantages of biogas is that it is a local resource which is produced from local food items, manure, or sludge and that it can be used as heat and electricity or can be upgraded as vehicle fuel. The rotting residues can be used as fertilizer, which makes one more self-sufficient in that too and reduces the use of fossil-based fertilizer, says Ida Norberg, project manager for BioFuels Region’s participation in the EU-funded project BEST ACE, which builds on the SI-funded project BalticBiogasCircles.
The SI-funded project BalticBiogasCircles, included seven actors from five countries who wanted to increase their knowledge about biogas, among other things through examples from public transportation. They also wanted to expand their network within the biogas sector in the Baltic Sea region. The project made several study trips. The first trip was to Finland and Sweden, where the participants got to visit biogas plants and gas stations. Then the pandemic came and instead they made digital study trips to Estonia, Latvia and Poland, which meant that more people could participate, and that the network was strengthened.
– Through this project, we have gained a stronger network in the Baltic Sea region, which is important for the future development in biogas together with our members, says Arne Smedberg, CEO BioFuel Region who was the project owner for the BalticBiogasCircles project.
With the EU’s decision on new emission rules for light vehicles as of 2035, the market for biogas must undergo a shift. But the shift to new markets is not a simple transition but requires that new players and new areas of use quickly can take up the volumes of biogas so that the market continues to develop.
– The EU directive from 2021 means a big challenge for the manufacturers of passenger cars as it means a shift to looking at what comes out of the exhaust pipe instead of looking at the biogas’ entire life cycle. The biogas market for passenger cars will decline because of this. Biogas will instead be used in heavy traffic and in industry. Biogas will also be more interesting for shipping, says Ida Norberg.
According to Ida Norberg, the network created through the BalticBiogasCircles project was very important in creating a new project aimed at tackling the challenges of the EU directive. Six organizations from Sweden, Finland, Latvia, and Estonia joined together in the BEST ACE project, which is led by the Energy Agency Southern Sweden.
– The fact that we had a previous joint project meant having a network and a partnership ready for an application. We got to know each other well during the BalticBiogasCircles project and gained a greater understanding of each other’s countries, challenges and differences, but also of similarities between the countries.
The EU project BEST ACE provides the opportunity for exchange of knowledge and discussions across national borders, which can speed up the process of finding new markets for biogas.
The war in Ukraine has not affected the project plan, but the view of biogas within the EU.
– Biogas is a good alternative to fossil fuel that has received positive attention. As it has become very expensive to buy fertilizer, the rotting residue from biogas has become an interesting alternative to fossil-based fertilizer. Now it is up to the BEST ACE project to find the most suitable market for biogas in each project country.
– We will compile a report for the four markets; industry, gas networks, shipping and heavy traffic. A status report has just been published which will lay the foundation for further discussion in the reference groups to come up with a roadmap, says Ida Norberg.
The BalticBiogasCircles project was funded by the Swedish Institute through the previous seed funding scheme. The funding has been replaced by the SI Baltic Sea Neighbourhood Programme.
The SI Baltic Sea Neighbourhood Program is a programme that funds projects in which Swedish organisations work on cross-border challenges and opportunities together with organisations from the EU countries around the Baltic Sea and countries of the EU’s Eastern Partnership.
There are two different types of grants to apply for within the framework of the SI Baltic Sea Neighborhood Programme: seed funding and cooperation projects. The next call for seed funding will open in the summer of 2023.
SI highlights this project in connection with the Europe in my region campaign. The campaign wants to highlight how EU money is beneficial at home and show how EU-funded projects affect a municipality, region or a whole country. During the campaign, several activities are taking place in Sweden.