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Biomethane from Organic Wastes Could Quadruple by 2021

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Biomethane Availability and Usability

Utilization of green energy has progressed tremendously over the last few decades. However, many renewable and environmentally friendly sources of energy pose a challenge when it comes to availability or usability, or both. Solar energy for instance can be successfully harnessed only in regions which have a high amount of sunshine, wind turbines can be used to generate electricity only in areas with sufficient amount and power of the wind, etc. which makes their usability largely limited to regions which have ideal geographical or/and weather conditions. Biomethane production, on the other hand, has no such limits. On the contrary, methane which is derived from organic matter and is equivalent to fossil fuel derived methane when it comes to both chemical structure and usability can be produced just about everywhere.

Biomethane is produced by anaerobic digestion (bacterial breakdown in absence of oxygen) of organic matter such as organic household waste, dead animal and plant material, manure, slurry, sewage and other organic materials which are found in large quantities on literally every step all over the world. The usability of anaerobic digestion of organic matter for power generation was discovered many years ago, however, biogas plants were not economically feasible due to relatively low cost of natural gas and other fossil fuels just a few years ago. But due to highly unstable fossil fuel prices, fears that peak oil has already been reached and the potentially catastrophic effects of global warming, the interest in sustainable and environmentally friendly sources of energy has increased dramatically in the recent years. Renewable energy, however, accounts for a small part of the total global energy output.

This is partly related to the fact that efficient technology for power generation from alternative sources of energy has been developed only recently but it is partly also related to limited availability/accessibility to green sources of energy. But the percentage of global energy that is generated from renewable and environmentally friendly sources of energy is steadily rising also thanks to biomethane. It provides a stable and efficient source of energy to regions which do not have the ability to generate power from solar energy, wind power, etc. Biomethane production requires only collection of organic waste material and construction of biogas plants which are very simple in technological terms and relatively inexpensive in comparison to other green power generation facilities of comparable power output.

Usability is another great advantage of biomethane besides availability. Since it is identical to fossil fuel derived methane, it can be used for space heating, water heating, cooking, etc. but it can also be used for electricity generation and if compressed, as fuel for vehicles. Burning biomethane produces the same amount of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases as burning the conventional natural gas. But in contrary to the latter, biomethane does not increase the greenhouse effect and global warming because its utilization produces the same quantity of greenhouse gases as if organic matter would be left to decompose in nature.

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