Wednesday, 24 November 2021
Author: Kevin Lim
On Monday, 22 November 2021, the European Biogas Association released a new paper regarding the potential of gasification technology to help reach net-zero by 2050.
Gasification is a process capable of turning biomass into syngas - a mixture of carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide and hydrogen. This mixture can be used directly for heating and power applications, or it can be further refined and processed into energy carriers such as hydrogen and synthetic natural gas.
The EBA has suggested that the market for gasification resources was valued just under 500 billion USD in 2019, and is projected to reach around 900 billion USD by 2028.
At the same time, significant challenges are noted with mustering public and political support, as well as scaling up current commercial viability. Some of the energy products which can result from syngas and their associated production cost range are shown below:
How does gasification compare to the current dominant process for biomethane production, anaerobic digestion (AD)?
Both processes aim to extract useful gases (including hydrogen and methane) from biomass (waste biomass in particular). Furthermore, both processes also result in non-energy by-products which provide revenue streams (biochar in the case of gasification, fertiliser from AD). Both can serve as waste management solutions.
These two processes are expected to be complimentary rather than competing, where much of the feedstocks available to one process are difficult or uneconomical to utilise via the alternate process.
In the Navigant projection of renewable natural gas for 2050, out of the 1010 TWh demand, 660 TWh is expected to come from AD whereas thermal gasification will be responsible for the remainder (350 TWh, 35%).
The hydrogen and methane which results directly from gasification should be eligible to receive GOs. Given the versatility of syngas to create various downstream products, gasification technology will form part of the case for rapid development of GO systems which can handle conversion.
The EBA press release can be found here, along with a link to the full paper.