Human activities, in particular transport, are partially responsible for the problems associated with the greenhouse effect, and therefore global warming.
A key short-term action consisted of increasing the use of alternative fuels to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. More generally, the Biogasmax objective was to develop alternative and affordable means of transport with a global policy of improving the management and use of waste and urban transportation.
In terms of its needs for energy, the European Union is increasingly dependent on imported fossil fuel. This complex situation leads to significant ecological and economical risks for society, as:
- The demand for energy is constantly increasing;
- Oil products come from politically unstable regions;
- Oil prices are rising;
- Resources are limited; and
- Greenhouse gases emitted by fossil fuels through combustion contribute to climate change.
The European Commission is seeking to solve these issues through a series of initiatives, including many that focus on the transport industry, which is almost fully dependent on oil. In this context, it launched a call for projects that focus on biofuels (Biofuel Cities).
Fossil fuel combustion (petrol, diesel, kerosene, gas) emits more than three billion tons of CO2 in the atmosphere each year. Biogas used as fuel (biomethane) can eliminate smog in the atmosphere and significantly reduce noise pollution. The most environmentally harmful compounds (particles, non-methane hydrocarbons) are absent when biomethane is used. For example, using biomethane as a fuel in buses leads to a reduction of 95% in particles, 99% in sulfur compounds and 70% in nitrogen oxide, as compared to diesel buses.
The main objective of the BIOGASMAX project was to address urban challenges related to air and water pollution, as well as waste management.
More specifically, the project's objectives were:
- Based on an well-to-wheel approach in a real life environment, the project will prove the technical reliability, the cost-effectiveness, the environmental and societal benefits of the natural gas and biogas fuels;
- Large-scale demonstration of the environmental and societal benefits of biogas and widely spread knowledge about them to European cities and stakeholders that would increase and ensure their progressive acceptance;
- Using the same methodology as the other biofuel projects, contribute to identifying and assessing ways to remove existing technical, operational, organisational and institutional barriers, which prevent from significantly alternative motor fuels and energy efficient vehicles entering the market.
The European Biogasmax project created a network of biogas-related demonstrations on the European territory with the aim of sharing experiences in terms of best practices in managing urban transportation. The demonstrations were held in Lille (FR), Gothenburg (SE), Stockholm (SE), Haarlem (NL), Rome (I), and Zielona Gora (PL), and made significant investments in the project supported by a wide range of actors and focused on integrated packages of demonstration measures.
The project got together complementary cities and regional authorities, working together with their fleet operators, vehicle and equipment manufacturers, technology providers, fuel and feedstock suppliers and researchers. It developed large-scale demonstration initiatives, working on both the supply and demand sides, designed with well-wheel approach (from feedstock and massive production to transport and distribution) and then use in captive fleets in cities.
By pooling their different approaches, the project cities developed the production of biogas from the entire range of sources: treatment of sewage sludge, organic waste from household and industries, landfill gas, energy crops and rest products from the agriculture sector. Cities also demonstrated new ways of gas and biogas fuel in energy efficient light / heavy vehicles, in public or private fleet. The project developed the distribution and the infrastructure for biogas as fuel for vehicles. An important aspect of distribution is the 'green gas principle' - upgraded biogas is injected and distributed in the natural gas grid.
To promote an increasing fleet of CNG/biogas vehicles, it is necessary to develop the infrastructure for filling stations.
Communication and information focused on the use of gas-powered vehicle is necessary for increasing the gas vehicle market. Research activities focused on the socio-economic, public acceptance and dissemination aspects of the project.
The European BIOGASMAX project created a network of biogas-related demonstrations on the European territory with the aim of sharing experiences in terms of best practices in managing urban transportation.
The BIOGASMAX project identified examples of good practices that have been established in different parts of Europe. The participating municipalities were Göteborg and Stockholm (Sweden), Rome (Italy), Torun and Zielona Góra (Poland), Lille (France) and Berne (Switzerland). The information was drawn from the experience of BIOGASMAX project partners and other communities: the energetic, ecological, economic, social and political aspects of biomethane implementation in each community were outlined.
The analysis of the criteria that has led decision makers to implement biomethane as a vehicle fuel with in a community, municipality or region has been used for development of the Biomethane Decision Guide. The Biomethane Decision Guide (available for download) explains all aspects of the biomethane decision - from the biomethane pathway to biomethane business - with the aid of practical examples. As such, it intends to help other municipalities and regions in determining whether or not they are candidates for biomethane implementation and, in the case of a positive decision, what steps to take next.
The results of the project should contribute to the specification of a European biomethane fuel quality standard that would increase its acceptance as a transport fuel and thereby its wider adoption. The project has also collated best practices in the whole biomethane value chain and summarised policies, incentives and guidelines for those interested in adopting the technology with special emphasis given to the new member states.
BIOGASMAX enhanced the prospects of biomethane as a vehicle fuel in EU25, contributing to the EU objective of decarbonising transport as enumerated in the EC communication 'Europe 2020 - A strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth'.
A city or a region is able to influence the market expansion of clean cars. It is important that the city leads. But achieving effects beyond municipal administrations requires co-operation with strategic public and private partners. The following actions are crucial:
- A long term commitment;
- Both vehicle supply and fuel infrastructure are critical components of city policies;
- A constructive dialogue with national government authorities to convince the latter to adopt legislation (transport of gas, feed-in tariffs, labelling) with the aim to create a framework which would help biomethane production and use.
Recommendations for further policies:
- Introduce national targets for 'percentage of renewable gas' in the natural gas grids.
- Support the organisation of large-scale farming community projects.
- Support purchase obligation of biomethane through 15-20 year contracts and associated feed-in tariffs, with the aim to give a long-term perspective.
- Take landfill biogas into consideration by analysing Dutch experiences and conducting experiments on landfill biogas upgrading treatments.
- Support the definition of a common European Standard on biomethane. Ensure that this common standard allows flexibility and would not be stricter than current national standards.
- Develop a filling station network. The customer will get a gas driven vehicle if there is a network of filling stations in the area.
- Public incentives (finding the location and ground financing).
- Common technical / safety rules for the building and the operation of filling stations.
- Urban planning rules to support gas filling stations network.
- Green procurement is a starting point for expanding NCG vehicles.
- Carry out further research on NGVs performance.
- Strengthen cooperation with car manufacturers in order to improve engine performance.