Yuri Epstein, advisor for biogas projects,
BAU and EBA member
It is the above properties that initially determined the higher investment attractiveness of solar and wind power plants and a cautious attitude towards biogas power plants.
But, as the ancient Greek philosopher Heraclitus noted: "Change is all around us". Development of solar and wind energy reveals their unevenness and low predictability stepping forward, requiring the development of expensive compensatory mechanisms.
Increasingly important are "smart grids", power storage and balancing systems. More and more alarming are the issues of environmental safety and prevention of changes in climatic conditions.
The priorities vary, green tariffs are down, soul-searching takes place. Amid a backdrop of the overall increase in energy consumption, not only quality and availability are becoming more important, but rather predictability, balanced development and sustainability. These are those factors that are inherent to the biogas power industry.
Biogas complexes generate not only electricity, but biomethane as well. Without power system’s ability to store large amounts of electricity, gas storage facilities, conversely, have such capacity. Biogas produced and refined to the required parameters can be pumped into, stored and withdrawn from gas storage facilities any moment.
Let us imagine a biogas complex equipped with a biogas post-treatment system connected to the gas pipeline and, at the same time, a cogeneration unit connected to the electricity grids. Ukraine has no such experience, but it is in common practice in the EU. There is a choice - to burn biogas, generating electricity and heat from it, or to upgrade it and produce an analogue of natural gas - biomethane.
At the same time, the green tariff goes into the background, and opportunities appear for full participation as a player on the markets for daily electricity and natural gas sales, which are only now emerging, but will become an inevitable reality in the near future.
Moreover, hybrid complexes, which include solar and/or wind power plants and biogas production, can become sources of predicted stable electricity, which is self-sufficient and is not required to be balanced.
Of course, in order for this to become a reality, additional amendments are to be made in a number of laws - "On Alternative Energy Sources", "On the Natural Gas Market", "On the Electricity Market". There is a need to introduce and legalize the concepts of "hybrid power plant" and "biomethane", the possibility of joint electricity generation or the purchase of electricity from the neighboring biogas complex.
There will be a need to develop the required technological solutions for synchronization and joint power generation by different RES into the grid.
All of the above can be considered quite real due to a number of objective and subjective factors. Among the determinants is Ukraine’s desire to adapt its gas and energy system to the European one, as well as the personal characteristics of the heads of the State Agency on Energy Efficiency and Energy Saving of Ukraine and the profile Verkhovna Rada committee.
In our opinion, it is the most effective joint use of various renewable energy technologies that can give a new impetus to its development in the very near future.