Currently in Italy there are 1300 biogas plants, and only 2 biomethane plants are in operation without a connection to the grid. As for transport, Italy holds first place in the number of NG vehicles (823,000) and NGV fuelling stations (1,022).
On 5 December 2012, the biomethane decree, which introduced and regulates the incentive system, entered into force and the last technical decrees for obtaining incentives and injecting biomethane in the natural gas grid were issued on August 2015.
The potential of biomethane is not to be overlooked, particularly from the economic point of view: 1 billion cubic meters of biomethane produced per year may involve investments of 4 billion euro.
A realistic development plan of methane/biomethane by 2020 includes:
- Doubling the number of fueling stations (from about 1000 to 2000);
- Doubling the current means of transport using CNG (preferably LNG) up to about 2 billion Nm3 by 2020;
- Increasing biomethane consumption up to 35% of the total consumption, about 700,000,000 Nm3/year.
In the future, there may be interest in new options for biomethane production: not only from AD but also from gasification and power-to-gas technologies.