Public Release: 

The biomethane market needs clear frame conditions for further growth

A new IEA study

Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research - UFZ


IMAGE: According to the report around 280 biogas upgrading plants in different countries with a production capacity of around 100,000 Nm³/h of biomethane are already in operation. view more

Credit: DBFZ

This news release is available in German.

Leipzig. Biomethane as a substitute for the fossil energy carrier natural gas offers a variety of options and applications for a sustainable energy supply. Nevertheless, a consequent market penetration is still pending because of a lack of standardized and transnational frame conditions. Scientists of the Helmholtz Centre for Environ-mental Research (UFZ) and the German Biomass Research Centre (DBFZ) and other Members of the IEA Task 37 (Energy from Biogas) and the Task 40 (Sustainable Bi-oenergy Trade) just summarized how the biomethane market developed in the IEA (International Energy Agency) member states and which factors are necessary for further growing.

In most of the IEA member states the fossil energy carrier natural gas still plays an im-portant and partiallypartially increasing role in the national energy supply. This is due to a well-developed infrastructure of gas networks, gas stations, and various modes of trans-portation by e.g. vessels. However, mainly due to the significantly lower greenhouse gas emissions, the energy security and the protection of finite resources, several countries initiated support programs for biomethane (methane from biomass).This is due to a well-developed infrastructure of gas networks, gas stations, and various modes of transport by tanker trucks or ships. Still have, mainly due to the significantly lower greenhouse gas emissions, energy security and the protection of finite resources already several countries initiated the gradual transition from fossil natural gas resource on renewable energy sources biomethane (methane from biomass)

The newly published study „Biomethane - status and factors affecting market development and trade", gives an up-to-date and comprehensive overview of the production technologies of biomethane (upgrading of biogas and Bio-SNG), the grid injection and the use in various IEA member states. Moreover, besides the description of the framework, the options and needs for the development of larger biomethane supply strategies are also illustrated. The authors finalize the study with concrete recommendations how the remaining barriers can be removed and the market development can be promoted step by step.

Greenhouse gas reduction potential of more than 80 percent

Due to the benefits (i) independence from natural gas imports, (ii) the strengthening of rural areas, (iii) and its promising application areas (fuel, cogeneration, heat), biomethane is considered as a promising alternative to fossil fuels. As far as the final composition of the biomethane is consistent with the various natural gas quality levels in the market it can serve as a substitute for natural gas. In addition, biomethane can also be transported and stored as natural gas. Last but not least, greenhouse gas emissions, depending on the plant design and operation as well as the accounting method, can be reduced in comparison to fossil fuels by more than 80 percent. The study already stated a transnational increasing interest in biomethane. According to the report around 280 biogas upgrading plants in different countries with a production capacity of around 100,000 Nm³/h of biomethane are already in operation.

Transnational frame conditions are required

A transnational biomethane market is, according to the study, still at the beginning. How-ever, various strategies, investment programs, funding and utilization concepts have been adopted in the investigated countries. Due to the complex supply chain there are various ecological, economic, administrative and political barriers for a market implementation of biomethane. For a sustainable and international implementation appropriate technical standards, sustainability requirements and political as well as financial support (compensation / promotion / preference), in order to significantly advance the development of an international biomethane trade, are necessary.



Thrän D, Persson T, Svensson M, Daniel-Gromke J, Ponitka J, Seiffert M, Baldwin J, Kranzl L, Schipfer F, Matzenberger J, Devriendt N, Dumont M, Dahl J, Bochmann G (2014): Biomethane - Status and Factors Affecting Market Development and Trade. A Joint Study by IEA Bioenergy Task 40 and Task 37.


Prof. Dr.- Ing. Daniela Thrän
Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ)
and Deutsches Biomasseforschungszentrum (DBFZ)
Phone: ++49-341-2434-435

Press Contact:

Tilo Arnhold, Susanne Hufe (UFZ-PR)
Phone: ++49-341-235-1635, -1630


Paul Trainer (DBFZ-PR)
Phone: +49-341-2434-437

In the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ), scientists conduct research into the causes and consequences of far-reaching environmental changes. Their areas of study cover water resources, biodiversity, the consequences of climate change and possi-ble adaptation strategies, environmental technologies and biotechnologies, bio-energy, the effects of chemicals in the environment and the way they influence health, modelling and social-scientific issues. Its guiding principle: Our research contributes to the sustainable use of natural resources and helps to provide long-term protection for these vital assets in the face of global change. The UFZ employs more than 1,100 staff at its sites in Leipzig, Halle and Magdeburg. It is funded by the federal government, Saxony and Saxony-Anhalt.

The DBFZ (German Biomass Research Centre) is an independent federal research insti-tute in the field of energetic biomass use. The research focus rests on the question of how limited available biomass resources can contribute towards the existing, but especially to-wards a future energy system considering its sustainability and maximum efficiency. As part of the research the DBFZ identifies, develops, accompanies, evaluates and demon-strates the most promising fields of application for bioenergy and the most outstanding examples in close cooperation with partners from research, industry and the public.

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