CIB remarks on the National Energy Strategy draft

Last Spring the Italian government disclosed the draft of a new National Energy Strategy (SEN in the Italian acronym), a crucial step for the sustainable development of the country. The Italian Biogas Consortium (CIB) has actively participated in the consultation process initiated by the Ministry of Economic Development and the Ministry of the Environment, provided that the SEN should be framed in a broad context that encompasses the environmental objectives assumed in COP21.

In this respect, the CIB has assessed that several concepts in the SEN deserve further analysis and should consider the specific features of biogas and biomethane sector.

First, it is worth recalling a few basic elements of the SEN draft:

Different scenarios are presented, starting from 2020 targets and elaborating a series of cases based on achieving or overcoming 2030 targets through various levels of energy efficiency. In all scenarios the role of gas is gradually diminishing because of: (a) the increasing of electricity in end uses; (b) the increase of electricity generation from renewable sources which results in a reduction in the use of natural gas for thermoelectric generation; (c) the general reduction of energy consumption due to increased energy efficiency.

The SEN indicates that 50% of electricity from renewable sources by 2030 is a feasible and achievable scenario according with Terna, provided adequate investment on the grid, new flexible storage and pumping systems, additional flexible electric generation capacity. It is therefore mandatory to promote integration tools to ensure system adequacy and security.

The SEN considers bio-energies as highly costly and pollutant when compared with other renewable sources.

It is important to review the Emission Trading System, which must be able to phase out fossil sources with a proper enhancement of renewable energy sources.

Biogas and biomethane characteristics: production cost-competitiveness

Before presenting its arguments, the Italian Biogas Consortium wanted to let the Government know that biogas can produce up to 10 billion Nm3 of biomethane by 2030: 8 billion from agriculture and 2 billion from organic waste, non-biogenic sources and gasification. This agricultural potential is obtainable by turning into energy less than 400.00 ha with first cropping (3% national agricultural surface), livestock effluents, agro-industrial by-products and second-crop harvesting or integration crops. It should be noted that, unlike other sectors, the evolution of the biogas and biomethane sector is mainly supported by the domestic industry with positive effects in terms of job creation.

That being said, the first important element that the CIB has emphasized is related to the alleged non-reducible costs of bio-energies, including biogas/biomethane. Since bio-energies are very varied, their specific characteristics should be assessed thoroughly, in line with the main aims of the SEN. Biogas production through anaerobic digestion goes indeed beyond the simple concept of bioenergy. Biogas/biomethane production is a link of a more complex chain that starts with land use management and involves many components of the production of agricultural goods. Contrary to what is stated in the SEN, biogas/biomethane production through new management models (Biogasdoneright) could reduce significantly its production costs, unlike simple bio-energies.