The use of biomethane in transport is closely linked to the development of natural gas filling infrastructure, as well as the increase in the number of CNG cars. It is the next step towards climate neutrality and environmentally friendly energy.
Biomethane is an odourless and colourless renewable gas that can be obtained by purifying biogas. This gas has the same characteristics as fossil natural gas; the same infrastructure and equipment can be used, and natural gas and biomethane can be blended. Biomethane consists mainly of carbon dioxide and methane, as well as it contains small amounts of moisture and various chemical compounds. The biogas, from which it is obtained, can be obtained by biological fermentation from organic biomass of various origins, such as maize biomass, organic food waste, manure, and wastewater. Natural gas and biomethane are interchangeable products, however, the cost of biomethane is and will continue to be significantly higher than that of natural gas.
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Latvia has all the preconditions for the development of biomethane. In Latvia, the construction of biogas plants began in the 1990s. Biogas plants were built to process agricultural waste and biomass. The last new biogas plant was put into operation in 2015, and in 2019, there were 53 biogas plants in Latvia. Due to various financial and political circumstances, several biogas plants have been closed.
For biogas to be used for the production of biofuels or fed into the natural gas network, a number of conditions have to be met, mainly related to the purification of biogas to the appropriate quality. The energy content of biogas is much lower than the energy content of biomethane, which is achieved by improving the quality of biogas for use as a biofuel.
In the next five years, it is planned to sell the first domestic biomethane supplies in Latvia. Latvijas Gāze, together with its cooperation partners, plans to produce biomethane and transfer it to the natural gas network. The implementation of these plans requires the elimination of legal and technical uncertainties so that the biomethane production project can be put into operation.