Pros & Cons Of Biogas (Advantages & Disadvantages)

In the guide below, we list and discuss the potential pros and cons of biogas.

 

Summary – Potential Pros & Cons Of Biogas

Potential Pros

Some Countries Already Use A Significant Amount Of Biogas

Can Be Used As A Gas Energy Source In Rural & Remote Areas

Can Have Multiple Uses

Gas Can Be Captured In Multiple Ways

Raw Biogas Can Be Refined & Converted Into Other Gas Products

Might Help Manage Some Waste Issues, & Also Utilize Waste For Energy

Might Be Considered As Renewable

Might Be Eco Friendly Or Sustainable In Some Ways

There May Be Various Economic & Social Benefits To Biogas Generation

Biogas Plants May Not Require Major Maintenance Or Incur Other Major Costs Over Their Lifespan

Might Be Good For Diversifying A Country’s Energy & Fuel Supply, & Gain More Energy Independence

Might Provide Baseload Power In Place Of Coal Or Natural Gas

Might Be Good Potential For Biogas Industry Growth In Some Countries

 

Potential Cons

Not As Established As Some Other Energy Sources

Some Reports Question The Economic Viability Of Biogas

May Need Additional Support & Funding To Continue To Develop In Some Countries

Biogas May Be Dangerous, Unsafe Or Toxic In Some Ways

May Have Practical Or Operational Issues To Consider

Biogas May Have Some Environmental Issues

 

Potential Pros Of Biogas

Some Countries Already Use A Significant Amount Of Biogas

For example, nationalgrid.com notes how China is a world leader in the use of biogas, with millions of households using biogas

The UK and US also have hundreds or thousands or biogas plants currently in operation 

 

Can Be Used As A Gas Energy Source In Rural & Remote Areas

This is currently the case in China where rural areas and villages have biogas plants that supply biogas

 

Can Have Multiple Uses

Biogas has a few uses:

Raw biogas with little to no processing can be used for heating or to power boilers

However, raw biogas can also be refined into biomethane (also called renewable natural gas, or RNG), and be injected into existing natural gas infrastructure (used in a similar way to methane to replace a certain portion of natural gas for activities like heating and cooking)

RNG can also be converted into CNG or LNG and used as vehicle fuel.

Additionally, separate to the biogas produced at biogas plants, digestate is the material left after organic waste digestion, and it might be sold or used as a soil amendment.

 

Gas Can Be Captured In Multiple Ways

The most common controlled way to produce and capture biogas at an industrial (or commerical) level is at biogas plants in anaerobic digestors.

However, LFG (landfill gas) can also be captured in the from of methane at landfill sites where organic waste releases this methane. This gas might have different abilities for use though.

 

Raw Biogas Can Be Refined & Converted Into Other Gas Products

Raw biogas is the most pure form of biogas.

Raw biogas can also be refined into biomethane (RNG)

Biomethane can also be converted into CNG or LNG

 

Might Help Manage Some Waste Issues, & Also Utilize Waste For Energy

Different types of organic waste can be utilized to produce biogas

Not only can this in some instances address some waste issues like waste pollution (particularly water pollution) and containing pathogens, but waste can be used for energy instead of being dumped with no utility.

 

Might Be Considered As Renewable

Because biogas comes from the digestion and break down of organic waste, it might be considered renewable.

 

Might Be Eco Friendly Or Sustainable In Some Ways

Such as:

– Limiting waste pollution

– Limiting methane release into the atmosphere, and overall reducing greenhouse gas emissions compared to the use of petroleum gasoline.

 

eesi.org outlines some potential greenhouse gas reduction savings when using biogas in their report

 

There May Be Various Economic & Social Benefits To Biogas Generation

Such as the creation of jobs, the generation of revenue, and the provision of income from the operation of biogas systems

 

Biogas Plants May Not Require Major Maintenance Or Incur Other Major Costs Over Their Lifespan

wikipedia.org mentions that ‘A high quality biogas plant needs minimum maintenance costs and can produce gas for at least 15–20 years without major problems and re-investments’

However, some other reports have different conclusions about the economics of biogas plants

 

Might Be Good For Diversifying A Country’s Energy & Fuel Supply, & Gain More Energy Independence

Biogas is another energy source that can diversify the existing energy sources in place

It may also help decrease some dependence in some instances on foreign gas or coal

 

Might Provide Baseload Power In Place Of Coal Or Natural Gas

At least one report from eesi.org indicates this might be the case, and they qualify this statement in their report

 

Might Be Good Potential For Biogas Industry Growth In Some Countries

nationalgrid.com indicates this may be the case with the US, identifying that the potential could be as high as hundreds of trillions of kilowatt hours of electricity being able to be produced per year

 

Potential Cons Of Biogas

Not As Established As Some Other Energy Sources

Traditional energy sources like coal and natural gas tend to be more established than biogas in many countries

 

Some Reports Question The Economic Viability Of Biogas

At least one report from energypedia.info indicates that the economic viability of biogas might be questionable in various ways

 

May Need Additional Support & Funding To Continue To Develop In Some Countries

eesi.org indicates that consistent policy support, reliable funding, and strong standards to encourage investment and innovation are needed for the future of the biogas industry and to reach it’s potential

 

May Have Practical Or Operational Issues To Consider

Biogas plants and biogas production have a range of potential practical or operational issues to consider like any other energy production method

Cracks in biodigesters, leaks from gas pipes, dealing with impurities in the mix, requiring specific conditions for digestion, some waste being harder to break down than others, are all examples of potential practical or operational issues with biogas production

 

Biogas May Be Dangerous, Unsafe Or Toxic In Some Ways

liebertpub.com notes that ‘Biogas is flammable, highly toxic, and potentially explosive’ 

 

Biogas May Have Some Environmental Issues

In addition to the potential safety issue of biogas for humans, liebertpub.com also notes that: ‘Harmful compounds and air contaminants are introduced into the environment during biogas production and use through both combustion processes and diffusive emissions’

So, biogas might not be without it’s potential environmental issues.

 

 

Sources

1. https://www.nationalgrid.com/stories/energy-explained/what-is-biogas

2. https://energypedia.info/wiki/Economic_Aspects_of_Biogas

3. https://www.eesi.org/papers/view/fact-sheet-biogasconverting-waste-to-energy

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