Political support in Hungary for biomethane is limited and underdeveloped. EU regulations have been implemented, but domestic regulations remain slow and very bureaucratic. Politically, nuclear energy is preferred, and as a result renewable energy is not supported. With regard to policy, there are low feed-in tariffs for a limited period. Biomethane, unfortunately, has received zero support and has no market, with less than 5% of capacity utilized.

 Specifically, with regard to agriculture, there are currently 40 biogas plants with 30 MWel (HU total use: 6,000-6,500 MW). Food processing waste capacity is about 25 MWel but is unused. The estimated total capacity is 1,600-1,700 MWel. Digestate in particular falls under extremely strict environmental regulations. Waste water sludge has 23-25 facilities with a capacity of 12-13 MWel. Hungarian landfills, including 80 large landfill sites, have a potential 4 MWel in green electricity (CHP), with 5 million tons of solid waste per year.

Image courtesy of Pavlo Petrenko

Image courtesy of Pavlo Petrenko

There are a number of legal, technical and economic issues faced in Hungary. Approximately 24-25 permits are required for construction and operation and grid connection (feed-in plan and penalty) must be authorized by the Energy Office. In essence, biomethane is allowed but not promoted. For example, it is subject to regulation designed for natural gas suppliers and grid operators, and there are no filling stations for biomethane.

To address these challenges, studies and detailed analyses should be done on local benefits from biomethane production (public transportation and utility vehicles), and these vehicles should be purchased with EU support. In addition, its social, political and economic benefits need to be advocated in workshops and public appearances. Training programs need to be implemented for experts and operators.

In co-operation with natural gas grid operators, the conditions to support biomethane-based transport need to be put into place.

With the help of BIOSURF, a series of best practices will be implemented. Research and development results will be introduced. Workshops for biogas operators will be planned, which will lead to more fruitful discussions with decision-makers. Cross-border technology transfers will be promoted, in conjunction with the leading countries within the BIOSURF network and EBA. Finally, organic waste treatment facilities to produce biomethane will be planned.