This post is a part of BioBiz’s Bio-CNG Perspectives.
BioBiz, a division of EAI, is a leading market intelligence & strategic consulting firm for the Indian bio-based sectors.
This blog post uses the terms bio-CNG and renewable natural gas (RNG) interchangeably.
Bio-CNG or bio-compressed natural gas, also known as sustainable natural gas or biomethane, is a biogas which has been upgraded to a quality similar to fossil natural gas and having a methane concentration of 90% or greater. As the gas is derived from natural and renewable sources, it is also termed renewable natural gas (RNG).
Anaerobic digestion is a well known technology globally for many years. Although there is already a wide application of biogas technologies around the world, the industry is still in its initial stages of development.
This blog post provides an overview of global biogas market.
Global biogas industry
The global biogas market size was valued at nearly US$21 billion in 2018. It is projected to reach approximately US$ 30 billion by 2026 exhibiting a CAGR of 4.65% from 2018-2026.
The biogas industry can be analysed in 3 broad categories:
- Micro digesters using biogas
- Scale digesters generating electricity
- Scale digesters producing biomethane
1. Micro digesters
Micro digesters have been in use for several centuries. Indeed, in the ancient history, one could find elementary biogas production during the Assyrian Empire 3000 years ago whilst more recognisably modern applications began to develop during the 17th century. Micro digesters play a very important role in rural areas of developing countries, where they are an integral part of farming, waste management and energy security.
There are a total of close to 50 million micro-scale digesters operating around the globe with 42 million operating in China and another 4.9 million in India. 700,000 biogas plants are estimated to have been installed in rest of Asia, Africa and South America as of 2019 .
The biogas from micro-scale digesters is most often used in stoves for cooking or heating, displacing solid, high emission fuels like firewood and charcoal. A cumulative 50 million biogas stoves are used by about 126 million people for cooking primarily in China (112 million) and India (10 million). China produced 13 million cubic metres of biogas from digester installations for cooking in 2016, and India for 2 million cubic metres as of 2018.
Generation of electricity from biogas is an established technology which has been widely implemented around the globe. This is most commonly done with a CHP engine with some form of heat recovery and use. A CHP engine can be linked to any operating anaerobic digester. For it to be economic, a CHP engine requires a minimum size. Operators of biogas plants are working to maximise efficiency and income streams by increasing the utilisation of heat. There is also a growing interest in trigeneration which generates electricity, heat and cooling when needed.
In addition to the millions of micro digesters, there are a total of 110,448 scale biogas systems operating in China of which 6,972 are large scale (2015). Europe has 17,783 plants with 10.5 GW installed capacity (2017). Germany is the leader in the European market with 10,971 plants followed by Italy (1,655), France (742), Switzerland (632) and the UK (613). 2,200 anaerobic digesters with an installed capacity of 977 MW operate in the USA.
The estimated biogas based installed capacity in India is 300 MW. Canada has about 180 digesters with 196 MW installed capacity. IRENA statistics on global electricity generation from biogas show that it has grown from 46,108 GWh in 2010 to 87,500 GWh in 2016. That is a 90% growth in six years.
3. Medium to large scale digesters upgrading to biomethane
Upgrading of biogas to biomethane is relatively new but now a proven technology. While some plants upgrade biogas to be used as vehicle fuel, others inject it into the local or national grids. Plants are also beginning to capture CO2 to be used in greenhouses and the food and drinks industry. There are over 540 upgrading plants operating in Europe with 195 in Germany, 92 in the UK, 70 in Sweden, 44 in France, and 34 in the Netherlands. Outside of Europe, there are about 50 in the USA, 25 in China, 20 in Canada and a few in Japan, South Korea, Brazil and India. Based on the data available, it is estimated that 700 plants upgrade biogas to biomethane globally.
Summary and future trends
It could be observed that electricity and CHP are the major end user applications of biogas as of 2019. Rising energy demand across developing regions coupled with growing concerns towards cleaner fuels is expected to increase the biogas usage for electricity generation. Micro-scale digesters tend to continue to dominate the market in terms of scale. This could be owing to the investments required during scaling as well as maintenance requirements.
By region, in North America, USA tends to dominate the market owing to favourable policies and advanced application sectors. Europe and Asia Pacific have dominated the market share over time. The prominent countries in the market are Germany, UK, Italy, China and India.
For the period 2019-2026, Asia Pacific is likely to dominate the global biogas market. The global biogas market has various participants globally. ENGIE operates as a major player across the biogas industry and has a substantial presence around the world. Other major players in the biogas industry include BEKON GmbH, Conveco Srl., EnviTec Biogas AG and more.
It could be observed that the global biogas market is expected to grow significantly in the near future, atleast until 2030. Biomethane technology is expected to be adopted to a major extent with several innovations to come owing to its advantages in producing a higher value product renewable natural gas and its reduced net carbon emission potential.
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