Biogas focus undermining climate plan

Difficulties in finding investors to finance expensive biogas plants and slow approval from the EU jeopardise a plan that hinges on tripling biogas production

Scientists estimate that that by 2020, just half of the government's forty planned biogas plants will be ready, leaving the government hard-pressed to fulfil its climate plan goals that hinge on a tripling of biogas production.

Failure to complete the biogas plants will lead to higher CO2 emissions than anticipated, from a worst-case scenario of 900,000 extra tonnes if no additional biogas plants are established, to at best 350,000 extra tonnes if half of the planned plants are built.

Jørgen E Olesen, a professor at Aarhus University and member of the parliamentary climate commission, said that it would be extremely difficult to reach the climate plan's goals without the biogas plants.

“I think it is completely ridiculous to maintain this aim when the government doesn’t do more to promote the [biogas] issue,” Olesen told Ingeniøren newspaper. "I know that the [energy] minister [Martin Lidegaard] has set up a taskforce to look into biogas barriers, but they could have asked the people involved, people who have encountered these barriers.”

Required subsidies waiting for approval
Olesen went on to add that increased subsidies for biogas plants, which were approved as part of the energy agreement six months ago, have not been implemented yet because the decision has yet to be ratified by the EU.

There are about 30 new biogas projects in the works around the country, 19 of which have been earmarked for a 30 percent subsidy support. But construction hasn’t started yet because the projects are all still awaiting EU approval.

Hans Duus Jørgensen, the head of biogas company Bionaturgas, has previously stated that all biogas plants need subsidies in order to be built and he sees the optimistic governmental plan as a sign that Lidegaard wants to wait for the taskforce results before making a move.

Jørgensen said he considers the planning process to be the main hurdle at the moment, as just one lodged complaint can postpone the projects for up to one year – a situation similar to the ongoing Metro construction issues. That, he said, has frightened off investors.