IEA: Circular economy approaches to integration of anaerobic digestion with Power to X technologies | 2024

Achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2050 or 2060 will require that decarbonisation goes beyond energy systems. In such a quest for global decarbonisation, integrating anaerobic digestion (AD) with Power to X (PtX) technologies offers significant possibilities.

Power to X encompasses a range of technologies that convert renewable electricity into hydrogen. Following that, through further processes and biogenic sources, the hydrogen is used to produce methane, methanol, and ammonia. When integrated with anaerobic digestion, biogenic CO2 from biogas production can be used to create renewable methane, enhancing the efficiency and sustainability of the biogas system.

The report by IEA Bioenergy Task 37 explores processes integrating anaerobic digestion with electrolysis, detailing the design evolution of a biomethanation process, examine circular economy applications, assess future applications in producing methanol and ammonia, and discuss optimal routes for PtX technologies. The integration of PtX and AD technologies offers numerous benefits, including:

  • reduced reliance on fossil fuels both as a fuel and as a feedstock for chemical industry,
  • enhanced energy security through local renewable energy production,
  • support for sustainable agricultural practices by producing biofertilisers,
  • significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.

The report features case studies from Germany, Denmark and Ireland demonstrating the practical applications of PtX and AD integration in biogas facilities and wastewater treatment plants. These examples highlight how these technologies can be implemented to achieve substantial environmental and economic benefits.

While the integration of these technologies presents challenges such as resource availability and infrastructure needs, the report outlines potential solutions and emphasises the importance of tailored, local approaches. Leveraging existing infrastructure can minimise costs and facilitate a smoother transition to sustainable energy systems.

The integration of anaerobic digestion with Power to X technologies holds immense potential to revolutionise energy and chemical production, supporting a sustainable, low-carbon future. Understanding the role of Power to X technologies can aid in developing sustainable energy solutions for various sectors. By embracing these innovative approaches, we can move closer to achieving global decarbonisation goals and fostering a circular economy.

Download the full report on the right side.

Join us on our event on the 3rd of October to find out more about the potential of Power to X and anaerobic digestion as well as other perspectives on biomethane production.