The World Biogas Association (WBA) has held an event during the closing stages of the COP26 climate crisis conference in Glasgow which explored the role of anaerobic digestion (AD) and biogas in helping to reduce methane emissions and help fulfil the Global Methane Pledge (GMP), a collective commitment to decrease the amount of methane emitted globally.
The WBA showcased the role of AD in the reduction of global greenhouse gas emissions at the COP26 Blue Zone event on Wednesday 10 November, particularly the reduction of methane, which is ten times more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide (CO2), reports Gas World.
Methane is generated from the billions of tonnes of organic waste generated from agriculture, food production and waste, landfills, and wastewater treatment facilities every year.
Over 100 countries have signed up to the GMP, and pledges to reduce emissions by 30 per cent from 2020 levels by 2030.
According to the Global Methane Assessment (GMA) report from the UN Environment Programme and Climate and Clean Air Coalition, AD has been highlighted as ‘one of the key technologies that can deliver methane reductions at low cost’. Anaerobic digestion is considered to be key in helping slow down the global increase in temperature.
Anaerobic digestion technology can produce significant, low-cost mitigation of emissions in a wide range of sectors, as well as produce useful products such as biogas, according to the lead author of the GMA report, Drew Shindell.
“Using AD to turn organic food, farm and sewage waste into biogas and biofertilizer that can be sold or used on-site to generate energy, can help reduce methane and create a sustainable source of revenue and job creation,” he said.
Anaerobic digestion involves the decomposition of organic waste feedstock in an oxygen-free environment, which then produces biogas, which is then filtered through a membrane to ‘upgrade’ the biogas into biomethane and bioCO2.
By implementing the widespread adoption of biogas as a fertiliser and fuel, industries such as transport, agriculture, and food production, industries traditionally considered hard-to-abate, can be decarbonised.
The transport industry is particularly difficult to abate, as heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) are responsible for 17 per cent of the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions, and up to 21 per cent of the road transport nitrogen oxide emissions.
Biogas producers, such as Air Liquide in France, have been exploring the use of biomethane in the reduction of emissions to help decarbonise the transport sector. As well as being fed into the gas grid, biomethane can be used to fuel HGVs.
According to the Gas Vehicles Network, there was a 78 per cent increase in the number of gas-powered HGVs in the UK between 2019 and 2020, and biomethane is the primary fuel source for these vehicles.
As of 2035, the sale of new diesel and petrol vehicles is to be banned, and it will be of little surprise that Air Liquide reports that many of its clients have begun transitioning to biomethane for their commercial fleets, many of which encouraged by the 90 per cent reduction in harmful emissions.
Biomethane is just one of many technologies made possible by harnessing the energy produced by organic waste. In addition to AD, biomethane and biogas could play a key role in reducing methane and CO2 emissions.
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