Greening the Gas

Is gas renewable? As Austria’s 350-plus biogas plants show, the answer is yes! Eco-friendly gas has a host of benefits: lower greenhouse gas emissions, long availability and the use of existing infrastructure.

Biogas is produced when microorganisms gradually ferment biomass. After processing, the biogas is injected into the gas grid and used by consumers for electricity and heat generation. Austria now has more than 350 biogas plants, which produce as much energy as is consumed in Bregenz, a town of 28,000 people. What’s more, biogas has a bright future thanks to ready supplies of raw materials such as straw, food waste and sewage sludge, and in view of the amount of agricultural land in Austria. Lower Austria, Upper Austria and Burgenland have the highest potential as far as biogas is concerned. 

Making use of highly developed infrastructure

Gas will play an integral part in future energy supplies for a number of reasons. Gas-fired power stations will fill the gaps caused by fluctuations in renewable energy output, while biogas can be transported using dependable, highly developed gas infrastructure. A study by JKU Linz has suggested that injecting biogas into the gas grid will prevent sharp price increases and stop infrastructure becoming redundant.  

Gas is sustainable

Biogas is not the only kind of “green gas” produced using fermentation processes. Thanks to power-to-gas technologies, synthetic methane from excess wind power also helps to reduce the burden on the environment. And biogas could play a major role in transportation: it is a potential source of compressed natural gas (CNG) and liquefied natural gas (LNG) for use in private and commercial vehicles.

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