Published on April 30th, 2012 | by Nicholas Brown1
Biogas on a Large Scale: Countries in Northern Europe Proving it Viable
April 30th, 2012 by Nicholas Brown
In northern European countries such as Finland and Norway, the use of biogas-fueled power plants and vehicles is revealing the true viability of this fuel.
Norway, in which 98% of electricity generated is from hydroelectric power plants, is going to have its buses in the capital city of Oslo operate on biogas from garbage (specifically food waste).
Biogas is released by rotten food because it is decaying. Biogas consists mostly of methane, which is normally in gas form and is one of the strongest greenhouse gases causing global warming today. The combustion of biogas from fermentation/decay is actually helpful, where global warming is concerned, because if it was not burnt, the methane it contains would escape into the atmosphere and cause more global warming.
In Finland, cogeneration plants fueled by biogas are being set up as well.
What Is Cogeneration?
Cogeneration plants burn fuel to generate both electricity and heat. This is a very efficient concept due to the fact that fuel-burning generators generate heat and electricity. In typical power plants, the heat generated is substantial (4 times more than the amount of electricity they generate).
This is a huge waste!
The heat could be used to boil water and produce steam for district steam networks, to heat buildings, to heat water, or even for sanitation — and this is how cogeneration plants use it.
In situations where the heat cannot be put to such use, such as if the power plant is in a remote location, the heat can at least be used to boil water and produce steam, which could turn an electricity-generating steam turbine. This is called a combined cycle power plant.
Proof of concept, such as these biogas projects, is important to potential entrepreneurs because — these prove that the idea actually works and makes entrepreneurs more willing to take the risk and construct more of these plants.
And proof of concept, in the case of Oslo, is not just a little pilot project, but an impressive 1/3 of the city’s buses are already fueled by sewage-derived biogas!
That isn’t all — there is potential to produce biogas with the energy equivalent of 4 million litres of diesel fuel each year.
Norway’s energy sector could become almost oil-independent with the expansion of this concept. That is a potentially low-cost and extremely green possibility the country could pursue. Norway is one of a handful of countries which have already taken steps big enough to largely wean themselves off oil, but no need to stop now….
People and countries using biogas can not only clear their conscience, but be proud, because they are helping to keep methane out of the atmosphere. Hopefully we will have more uplifting biogas posts for you soon.
h/t Renewables International
Photo Credit: paulasofiasimoes
Keep up to date with all the hottest cleantech news by subscribing to our (free) cleantech newsletter, or keep an eye on sector-specific news by getting our (also free) solar energy newsletter, electric vehicle newsletter, or wind energy newsletter.
Own or lease an electric car? Complete out EV Owner/Lessee Survey.