To ensure the future of the sector, two issues must be considered at Community level: recognition of digestate and guarantees of origin.
At the founding of the European Biogas Association (EBA) in February 2009, members were considering joint work on biogas production and recovery technologies through cogeneration of electricity and heat. Our industry has profoundly evolved with certified biomethane and digestate production. We still often have the vision of a biogas industry turned towards the production of electricity or biomethane while its main product, digestate, remains an unknown outside the profession and the trades of agriculture. Several deadlines are before us for its recognition in the context of a circular economy as an organic fertilizer from different sectors.
At the European level, the forthcoming revision by the European Parliament and the Council of the rules on the availability on the market of fertilizers bearing the CE marking and amending Regulation (EC) No 1069/2009 and ° 1107/2009 lets us hope for an exit from the waste status of digestats. This change is subject to various constraints and uncertainties in the revision. The report of the Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection of the European Parliament proposes, for example, an amendment to the European Commission’s text on fertilizers from recycled and organic materials. And the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Safety calls for a different definition of a solid fertilizer and a liquid fertilizer on the basis of a dry matter threshold for these products. The stakes of such definitions are the recognition of the digestate: dry matter compositions, percentages of organic matter, nitrogen, phosphate or potash can be discriminating for the economics of the process.
In France, the Ministry of Agriculture, Agri-Food and Forestry has prepared a draft decree approving specifications for the placing on the market and the use of agricultural digestates as fertilizers. This is a first step in favor of the recognition of agricultural digestates from the various materials (excluding non-agricultural green waste) benefiting from the regime of classified installations subject to declaration.
There is therefore an untapped economic potential of digestats in France and in Europe.
Biomethane: towards guarantees of origin “100% green”
On the value of biomethane, since 2011, France has had a complete legislative architecture for biomethane injected with a producer purchase price, a biomethane origin guarantee system operated by the French registry manager, and since then on 1 January 2017, with restrictive conditions on food crop supplies. This voluntarist approach of the profession gathered in the National Biogas Committee makes it possible to envisage guarantees of origin of biomethane 100% green under the conditions defined by the European Union today (RED I Directive) and future (Draft Directive RED II). We are committed to a renewable biomethane, a “green natural gas” that meets sustainability criteria and therefore significant savings in greenhouse gas emissions. Our European EBA partners are beginning to share this ambition with national disparities from a biomethane industry built on energy crops in some countries. In this process, the European Union in its preparatory work for the new European directive recommends standardized and robust sustainability criteria that guarantee the European consumer the sustainability of biomethane which he uses directly or through a guarantee of origin National or European level.
It is on this site of European guarantees of origin that part of our efforts to recognize the commitment of our sectors on renewable biomethane, “green natural gas” which constitutes a financial resource for the development of projects and of domestic production.
The Europe of biomethane is looking to the future; it’s up to us to make it more sustainable!