Air Liquide Rolls out Biogas Plants in Europe
French firm Air Liquide said April 18 it commissioned 12 biogas purification units in Europe during the past 12 months in Europe, tripling its capacity there. The new units which the company operates – in France, the UK, Hungary and Denmark – represent a total investment of €12mn. They generate long-term contracts for the production of biomethane for Europe’s gas grids which, among other things, supply the vehicle fleets that run on bio-NGV (natural gas for vehicles).
Worldwide Air Liquide designed and deployed 50 such units to transform biogas into biomethane and inject it into natural gas networks. Its total worldwide installed biogas purification capacity is 160,000 m3/hr (equivalent to 1.4bn m³/yr). One of its rivals, Germany's Linde, says it and US firm Waste Management built the largest such plant in the world at Livermore near San Francisco that incorporates a biogas liquefaction unit, which provides bio-LNG as a fuel to road trucks.
A 2013 factsheet by the European Biogas Association (EBA) said that biomethane was produced in 15 European countries and injected into the gas grid in most of them. It says total biogas production in Europe then corresponded to about 14bn m3/yr – a figure expected to double by 2020. An update in late 2015 said that 87 new biogas upgrading units were commissioned in Europe during 2014.
EBA noted that in Sweden, biomethane as a fuel overtook compressed natural gas (CNG) in 2013 with a market share of 57%. Air Liquide in 2014 acquired FordonsGas, Sweden’s leading distributor of bio-NGV, which operates nearly 50 bio-NGV stations there serving taxis, corporate fleets, buses and cars. Sweden became Europe’s front-runner for biomethane with production of 120mn m3 /yr biomethane, of which 78% went to fuel almost 50,000 vehicles, according to EBA’s update for 2014. Linde too, through its subsidiary Aga, is also active in supplying the Scandinavian biomethane market.
An EU programme aims to foster the expansion of cleaner fuels on Europe's roads and waterways such as CNG, LNG, biogas and bio-LNG as a substitute for oil products.