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2015-10-08

Halmstad University in Nordic biogas project

Biogas is an important alternative in order to increase the share of renewable energy in the transport sector. Despite this, the market is comparatively small. But now Biogas 2020, an EU project with the purpose of encouraging a positive development for both production and use of biogas, is starting. Halmstad University is one of 30 partners from Norway, Denmark and Sweden.

Biogas 2020 is a project within the EU programme Interreg Öresund-Kattegat-Skagerrak. A consortium consisting of universities, businesses and public organisations from the sea region to the west of Sweden is participating in the project.

The premise is the roll of biogas in societal economy, but the University's roll in the project mostly consists of looking after the region of Halland's interests in the biogas area.

– There are incredible development possibilities, but for development to really take off, you first have to knock down the obstacles, says Marie Mattsson, research leader for Biological and Environmental Systems (BLESS) at Halmstad University.

Sustainable business models missing

Halland is ideal for biogas production. There are many animal farms, but only a fraction of the manure is used. The reason being that sustainable business models are largely missing, which leads to few farmers daring to venture into developing their activities in the area to any greater extent.

– It's about creating better conditions and for that reason we're looking at how to create new business opportunities in biogas. The goal for us is to stimulate the market to grow as well as give biogas producers better profitability, by quantifying and appreciating the societal benefits they offer. If this can be done within the framework of the project, it will have a ripple effect and the hope is that it can lead to green growth regionally, nationally and internationally, says Niklas Karlsson, University adjunct in Biogas Technology, whose PhD project concerns this.

From production to consumption

However, it's not just about getting the production itself started; it's about the whole chain, from how to build a facility to who buys the gas. The technology to produce biogas already exists and the gas is used in many places, among others powering the Halmstad city buses. But many more vehicles could be powered by biogas.

– There are quite a lot of components that have to be built into a whole, to have a functioning market. The market must demand the product for the producers to be interested, and then a lot of collaborating factors decide.

During the project, a collaboration platform will be built for biogas in Sweden, Norway and Denmark, to coordinate development work and at the same time work for politics giving the industry room to grow. The venture will benefit increased production and use of biogas, both short and long term, as well as contribute to a greener economy and sustainable growth across national borders.

Stimulus for green industries

The University's participation in the project strengthens the research area Green Innovation, whose purpose is to create competetiveness and stimulate to new products, services and processes within the green industries.

– Focus on the entrepreneurship of the countryside is very now, and there are a lot of possibilities to develop the green industries. It's not only agriculture that is suitable for biogas production, but anywhere som kind of organic waste is created it is possible to produce biogas, says Marie Mattsson.

Long-term collaboration

The results and experiences created through the Biogas 2020 project will be the foundation of continued development efforts.

Interreg Öresund-Kattegat-Skagerrak is an EU programme supporting projects that want to solve shared challenges in innovation, green economy, transport and employment.

Facts biogas

In a biogas plant, organic material such as sewage sludge, manure, agricultural crops and food waste is used. The waste is placed in an airtight container, a so-called digester. The gas that forms consists mainly of methane and carbon dioxide. Apart from biogas, a nutritious residue that can be used as fertiliser is also formed.

Marie Mattsson and Niklas Karlsson see great development potential for biogas.

Updated 2015-10-08