How is Biogas Changing Renewable Energy?

As the world seeks sustainable alternatives to combat climate change and reduce our reliance on fossil fuels, biogas energy has emerged as one of the most promising solutions. Biogas – a renewable energy source produced from organic waste – offers multiple environmental and economic benefits.

In the United States particularly, the utilisation of Biogas energy has gained momentum and is now contributing to a greener energy landscape whilst creating new opportunities for sustainable development.

In this article, we explore the growth of Biogas energy in the US, the advantages of biogas, how biogas energy works and the potential it has as a key player during our transition to a low-carbon economy.

What is Biogas Energy?

Biogas is a versatile fuel derived from the breakdown of organic matter such as agricultural waste, food scraps and sewage. By utilising the anaerobic digestion process, we can convert this organic waste into biogas, which is primarily composed of methane (CH4) and carbon dioxide (CO2). The methane content that is extracted during this process is what makes Biogas a valuable energy source, which can be used in various applications.

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How does Biogas energy work?

Producing Biogas involves collecting and processing organic waste materials in anaerobic digesters. These digesters create an oxygen-free environment, which allows bacteria already present in the waste to break down that waste and produce methane-rich Biogas.

The remaining digested material – called digestate – can be used as a nutrient-rich fertiliser in agriculture. Biogas production not only diverts organic waste from landfills but also opens up opportunities for sustainable waste management.

What are the advantages of Biogas energy?

A significant advantage of Biogas is the positive impact it has on the environment. Biogas facilities help us reduce greenhouse gas emissions because it captures methane, which holds significantly higher global warming potential than carbon dioxide.

Methane emissions from organic waste are effectively curtailed through the anaerobic digestion process, helping to mitigate their impact on climate change. Biogas also displaces fossil fuel usage, which further reduces carbon dioxide emissions and helps to enhance air quality.

What are the applications for Biogas energy solutions?

Biogas can be utilised in a variety of ways, which makes it an incredibly versatile energy resource. It can be used directly for heating and cooking, helping to replace fossil fuel-based alternatives. 

Biogas can also be upgraded to biomethane, which is a purified form of Biogas with a much higher methane concentration. Biomethane can be injected into natural gas pipelines or used as fuel for vehicles.

In addition to these applications, biogas facilities are also able to generate electricity and heat through a ‘combined heat and power’ (CHP) system, offering a reliable and sustainable energy source.

What are the economic benefits of Biogas?

Biogas projects can have significant economic benefits for adopters. They provide a clear source of revenue for farmers and waste management facilities, who can turn organic waste into renewable natural gas and electricity. 

Moreover, Biogas projects have a massive impact on stimulating local economies, helping to create biogas jobs in construction, operation and maintenance.

As the energy sector also diversifies with concepts such as Biogas, it reduces the dependence on imported fuels and enhances energy security.

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How has Biogas impacted the US energy industry?

As one of our main markets here at AD Energy, we’re always looking to stay ahead of the latest updates in the US energy sector, particularly in regards to Biogas and Waste-to-Energy.

The United States has witnessed substantial growth in the Biogas industry in recent years, with supportive policies such as the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) and Investment Tax Credit (ITC) facilitating the expansion of Biogas projects around the country.

We’ve seen a number of farms, wastewater treatment plants and landfill sites adopt Biogas technology as it means they can convert their organic waste into renewable energy. 

The development of Biogas infrastructure, including distribution systems, has improved the accessibility and utilisation of Biogas for the sector, making it a much more viable alternative renewable energy.

What does the future look like for Biogas energy?

As a new, clean alternative to fossil fuels, the future of Biogas looks positive, particularly in the US. With the country continuing to transition to a clean energy future, Biogas will likely play an integral role in achieving renewable energy targets. 

The expansion of Biogas production will obviously require policy support from both local and national government, while investment in research and development will help to bring long-term plans to the forefront. 

For workers in the energy sector, especially those that currently operate in traditional non-renewable fields, this transition to energies such as Biogas will open up plenty of opportunities. 

With the potential to utilise transferable skills in a more progressive and focused sector, anyone seeking energy jobs in biogas or waste-to-energy will find their skills in-demand.

Related: Read more about our experience at Biogas Americas 2023