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Sedigas: The gas companies believe that biomethane could cover a third of the demand in Spain | Economy

The president and general secretary of the Sedigas gas employers' association, Joan Batalla and Naiara Ortiz de Mendibil, this Tuesday in Madrid.
The president and general secretary of the Sedigas gas employers’ association, Joan Batalla and Naiara Ortiz de Mendibil, this Tuesday in Madrid.Emilio Naranjo (EFE)

Cheap gas, a constant for decades, has been the main factor behind the slowdown in biomethane expansion: the renewable alternative has consistently been substantially more expensive than its fossil counterpart. The explosion of prices in the last year, however, has completely changed the tables: it already competes from you to you in costs, with the Iberian Peninsula as one of the countries with the greatest development potential. At this juncture, the sectoral employer Sedigas has calculated this Tuesday that a third of the demand in Spain could be covered with fuel from biological waste, wastewater or domestic and industrial organic waste.

“There is already a roadmap, as we have been demanding for years, but we must be more ambitious: the generation potential is more than 120 terawatt hours (TWh), which means that a third of the total demand and close to 60 % of the industrial demand could be replaced”, underlined Joan Batalla, the president of the association that brings together the main companies in the gas sector, at the organization’s annual conclave. “It is not an ambition that we alone defend, but the European Commission itself speaks of doubling biomethane by 2030. Spain can and must assume European leadership ″, he insisted.

10% in 2030

The expectation, however, collides with the current reality. Today, the use of biomethane is much lower in Spain than in most neighboring countries. And although there are —according to the Sedigas count— around 200 projects “prepared to materialize in the next two years”, Spain only has five plants injecting biomethane into the network. Despite this, the gas employers see in biomethane “the present, considering that it is a mature technology, and hydrogen, the energy vector of the future”.

The business organization bases its figures on the projections of the Community Executive, which calculates a “technical potential” for biomethane generation in Spain of 122 TWh, compared to a total consumption of 378. In view of these data, the employers believe that the National authorities “should set a goal” that 10% of all gas demand is covered by this renewable source by 2030.

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The roadmap of the Twenty-seven involves doubling the current production targets to 35,000 million cubic meters, which would make it possible to cover a quarter of the gas consumed today in the EU. The investment required to achieve this goal will be around 37,000 million euros between now and 2030. “Biomethane can be used for industrial uses, electricity generation and heating, directly replacing natural gas,” reads the latest plan of the European Commission to stop depending on Russian energy, presented two weeks ago.

More interconnections

With six regasification plants (the facilities in which this fuel is returned to its natural state), Spain is the European country with the greatest potential for importing liquefied natural gas from the Old Continent. That, in the current circumstances —in full disconnection from Russia— is a great value that, however, is subject to a powerful bottleneck: the weakness of the interconnections with the rest of Europe. Two projects are called to make up for this lack: the Midcat gas pipeline, which should cross the Pyrenees, paralyzed for years; and the Barcelona-Livorno connection under the Mediterranean Sea, which the Community Executive has just put on the table but which will not be available in the short term.

“It is essential to advance in the deployment of infrastructures for the use of renewable gases and we must continue expanding the interconnections of the Spanish gas system”, the Secretary General of Sedigas, Naiara Ortiz de Mendíbil, claimed on Tuesday. These interconnections could, according to the employers, “turn Spain into a gateway for renewable gas in Europe”.

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