The benefits and the usage

The benefits and the usage

The benefits and the usage

Biomethane is a completely renewable, flexible and efficient energy source. Biomethane is programmable, thanks to the existing transportation and storage facilities, unlike other renewable energy sources.

Thanks to its characteristics, biomethane integrates perfectly and in a completely complementary way with respect to other renewable sources, such as solar and wind, which are inherently rigid and non-programmable.

Biomethane is obtained through the purification process of biogas, through anaerobic digestion of biomass and organic waste, being 100% renewable.

Biomethane, produced and purified in the plants with the most recent technologies, shows high quality standards with purity threshold over 95%. Biomethane is chemically a complete substitute to natural gas (i.e. CH4) and thus, can be introduced into gas transport and distribution networks. As a renewable source, biomethane is used for electricity production and heating purposes (domestic and industrial users) and as a fuel for motor vehicles.


The benefits of biomethane

  • Circularity
    Biomethane can be produced from agricultural biomass (dedicated crops, by-products and agricultural waste and animal waste), agro-industrial (processing waste from the food processing chain) and the Organic Fraction Municipal Solid Waste (OFMSW). Once the anaerobic digestion process is completed, processing remains are used as natural fertilizer to refurbish the necessary organic and nutritive substances of land in a circular economy perspective.

  • Efficiency and Programmability
    The production of biomethane is rigid and not programmable, however the presence of widespread gas infrastructures, as well as storage facilities, not requiring further investments, ensures that rigid production be managed and programmed at reduced costs, especially in comparison to set up programmable wind or solar renewable sources.   

  • Sustainability
    Biomethane, despite being chemically a gas, is considered neutral considering the impact of emissions and totally renewable, being produced through the deterioration of waste and organic material. Furthermore, for biomethane originated from agricultural biomass, the carbon dioxide emissions produced along the lifecycle are equal to the quantity of C02 absorbed by the harvest during the growth phase, neutralizing the process from an environmental point of view. The process can even become "negative" from an emission point of view, when the carbon dioxide, produced and separated in the biogas purification phase, is used for industrial and / or food purposes. Furthermore, the production of biomethane does not compete with food production, while encouraging the use of particular "second harvest" energy cultures and preserving the agricultural equilibrium of existing economy.

  • Local economy value creation
    Biomethane can revamp local economies, by creating new job positions, increasing tax income for local communities, optimizing the disposal needs of processing waste and OFMSWas well as, through special agricultural techniques, counteracting the desertification effects, while preserving nutritional elements of the land.

  • Minimization of decarbonisation costs 
    Biomethane is a fundamental source for achieving the decarbonisation objectives: it does not require new investments in infrastructure and helps to enhance waste and by-products.Taking into account the costs generated along the entire life cycle of the vehicle, from production to final disposal, biomethane and in particular that produced from advanced matrices, is a sustainable biofuel that guarantees an economically efficient alternative to achieve the decarbonisation objectives. in transport. Biomethane, which can be perfectly integrated into the CNG (already widespread in Italy) and LNG supply chains thanks to the presence of capillary infrastructures for the transport and distribution of natural gas, ensures a significant improvement in air quality, especially in urban contexts, for the almost absence of particulates and nitrogen monoxide. A recent Ecofys study, sponsored by the Gas for Climate association, of which Snam is a member, estimated that renewable gas could lead to overall savings at the European level of c. 140 billion euros per year by 2050, compared to a scenario that excludes the use of biomethane.

The usage

Being a clean energy source, biomethane could be used for production of electric energy, for heating purposes or as a fuel for vehicles. The latter is considered the optimal application given the scarcity of renewable energy sources for transportation purposes.

As a renewable energy, the 2nd March 2018 Ministerial Decree was issued to promote the use of biomethane in transportation.

The emissions of natural gas vehicles are lower than those from vehicles using traditional fuels: a methane alimentation compared to a petrol alimentation generates savings of around 97% for PM, 75% for nitrogen oxides and 30% for carbon dioxide. If biomethane is used, emissions are further reduced: for example, for carbon dioxide, the reduction is around 90% [1].


[1] Analysis based on the following assumptions: (i) vehicle with gas fuel, (ii) 16.000 km/year, (iii) 14 years of utilization, (iv) petrol cost equal to 1,53 €/l while fuel cost equal to 0,97 €/l; source: ADAC Ecotest, EMPA

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23 September 2020 - 17:42 CEST