The Nordic Biogas Model - one solution to many problems
On the 20th of September we came together for the mini-symposium Biogas, organised by the Swedish Biogas Solutions Research Centre together with the Platform Renewable Fuels, the Platform Green Gas and the Dutch Biorefinery Cluster. Many interesting ideas and solutions were shared, some of which will be briefly outlined in this article. You can use the links below to see the presentations.
The main philosophy that the Biogas Solutions Research Centre (BSRC) operates from is that of combined solutions. Many sustainability challenges co-exist on the level of ecology and seep into the socio-economic spheres: air pollution, water pollution, urbanization and congestion, a growing amount of waste, decreasing soil fertility in agriculture, fossil energy dependency, and energy security. The Nordic model suggests there are solutions that can address a complexity of these concerns simultaneously.
A prime example is that which was presented by Karin Tonderski of Linköping University. In Sweden, and many other places around the world, there is an incongruency between places that produce nutrient rich by-products (such as manure), and places where there is a demand for more nutrients (e.g. for crop-farming). This necessitates transport of nutrients between places that have a surplus towards places that have a nutrient demand, and thus creates the question of how to establish an efficient and profitable system in which this transport can take place.
The BSRC has established a multifunctional system where animal waste, agricultural waste, and food waste are used to create biogas. Importantly, in this process, non-digestible by-products are created. These can be collected and subsequently used to form varying soil amendment and fertilising products.
In such a system, the biogas production is a means by which to improve the business model of bio-based fertilisers, while at the same time realising more efficient redistribution of nutrients across space – by using biogas production plants as distribution nodes.
As such, agriculture plays an important role in the production of biogas and realising Sweden’s biogas potential. It sets an important example of how different production facilities can interact to create innovative bio-based solutions.