Biogas has potential especially for heavy transportation

13.5.2022 5.56Updated: 23.5.2022 11.26
The network of biogas filling stations in Finland covers about 70 biogas stations. There are currently three filling stations in Espoo.

The Future of Biogas webinar offered perspectives on the current situation of biogas and envisioned the prospects for its use in the near future. The event brought together key players in the gas sector – with a comprehensive representation from ministries to organisations and companies. The webinar was part of the work of assembling a network of Espoo’s biogas in transportation.

Espoo’s Director of Strategy Pasi Laitala introduced the event by telling about Espoo’s work on sustainable development towards carbon neutrality by 2030. The Sustainable Espoo programme implements the development goals of the Espoo Story, meaning the Espoo strategy, approved by the council in a cross-administrative manner throughout the city organisation in order to achieve the climate and sustainability goals. We develop new sustainable solutions together with companies and other partners.

Domestic biogas improves self-sufficiency and security of supply

By recycling nutrients, it is possible to increase self-sufficiency and improve security of supply. The importance of this is emphasised in the current global situation. Until now, a significant part of the fertilizer imported to Finland has come from Russia.

Riikka Malila from the Ministry of the Environment spoke about measures to promote nutrient recycling. The changed market situation supports the development of the recycled fertilizer market in Finland. A significant rise in fertilizer and energy prices will also increase the viability of domestic biogas. Demand for biogas is on the rise as its viability improves.

Regarding the role of municipalities in promoting the use of biogas in transportation, Malila of the Ministry of the Environment said in her speech: “Municipalities have a role to play in encouraging and promoting new ways of working, providing opportunities for regional actors and supporting co-operation”.

The future of biogas looks bright

The Finnish Biocycle and Biogas Association has been pushing for biogas at various levels for a long time. According to the association, recently many steps have been taken with regard to biogas, both at the Finnish and EU level.

Finland aims to halve the carbon dioxide emissions of road transportation by 2030, and biogas will play a significant role in achieving this. The procurement and conversion of gas-powered cars is supported by the Ministry of Transport and Communications and the distribution infrastructure through the administrative branches of the Ministry of Employment and the Economy.

Gasum Oy’s Markku Suopanki said that the network of filling stations is growing strongly in Finland. There are currently three filling stations in Espoo. Gas logistics is also growing strongly in Europe.

The role of biogas is promoted at the Finnish and EU level

The Government’s roadmap for fossil-free transportation, the decision-in-principle, presents measures to reduce transportation emissions. Measures to promote biogas include funding and support for the purchase and conversion of gas-powered vehicles as well as transport gas distribution infrastructure. 1 TWh of biogas is produced in Finland at present and the goal is to increase the amount to 4 TWh by 2030. According to various expert estimates, the potential biomethane and biogas for truck use in 2030 could be around 2.5 TWh.

“In order to increase gas cars, a significant increase in the current number of gas filling stations is needed,” Tuuli Ojala of the Ministry of Transport and Communications said in her speech.

An EU directive to promote the market for clean vehicles will increase the emissions of public transport. For heavy vehicles, a vehicle that runs on 100% alternative fuel, meaning either biofuel, electricity, (bio) gas or hydrogen, is defined as a clean vehicle.

Steps have recently been taken to promote biogas at EU level. As an example, Anna Virolainen-Hynnä, Executive Director of the Finnish Biocycle and Biogas Association, launched the REPowerEU initiative, which sets out measures to increase Europe’s energy self-sufficiency by, among other things, increasing biomethane production in Europe.

Gas cars is a worthwhile choice for the consumer in many ways

Jani Hautaluoma, the founder and chairman of the Gas Car Association, spoke about gas cars, especially from the perspective of consumers and motorists. Hautaluoma presented many good reasons to choose a gas-powered car. Among other things, biogas has the most low-emission of all transport propulsion fuels in terms of life cycle emissions.

A typical gas passenger car has a range of 300 to 500 kilometres on gas. At present, there are already 70 biogas distribution stations in Finland. The gas car is based on safe and already tested technology. Biogas driving, as well as gas-powered cars, are also advantageous for consumers compared to petrol-powered cars, for example.

The production of biogas sold in Finland employs people in Finland, as it is produced from the biodegradable waste of domestic households, agriculture and companies. At the same time, recycled nutrients are generated as a by-product of biogas production and the use of those reduces the need to use fertilizers.

Hautaluoma stated that EU emissions legislation and, in particular, the too few filling networks in rural Finland were slowing down the use of biogas in transportation. According to him, there are also various interpretation challenges associated with the taxation of gas cars. For example, even the most low-emission cars also have to pay a motive power tax.

Heavy vehicle’s motive power puts pressure on emission reductions

According to the experts in the webinar, the role of biogas is seen as important, especially in meeting the needs of heavy transportation. Natural gas and biogas used for heavy vehicles, especially trucks over 16 tonnes, will become faster than electricity in the coming years.

Procurement subsidies in line with the Fossil-Free Roadmap, such as truck subsidies for 2023-2030, will guide procurement, as will the Green Transition Support Package. Legislation on vehicle emissions, in particular, is also affecting the propulsion of heavy vehicles.

“We have a lot of pressure to move away from fossil fuels to renewable fuels. However, the challenge is still the coverage of the distribution and charging infrastructure,” Hanna Kalenoja, a traffic specialist at the Finnish Information Centre of Automobile Sector, summed up the current situation.

Kalenoja also emphasises the importance of corporate social responsibility in choices. “More and more companies ̶ ordering transport – but also transport companies – are very interested in reducing emissions,” says Kalenoja.

According to Gasum’s Suopankki, locally produced biogas for heavy traffic could already be utilised in Espoo.

Biogas ecosystem work is underway in Espoo

Development Manager Tiia Tuuri from the Centre of Excellence for Sustainable Development brought together biogas promotion activities in Espoo. The first city-wide  biomass survey(external link) was completed in Espoo last autumn. The total cost of ownership (TCO) calculation for heavy vehicles(external link) was carried out in the spring of 2022. We are investigating the scope and location of the biogas distribution network in Espoo. We bring together the most important players in the biogas as a transport fuel ecosystem in Espoo.

Join as a partner in biogas ecosystem work(external link) to solve global challenges with local solutions!

 The webinar available in YouTube (in Finnish)

The Future of Biogas webinar (external link)was organized on 22 April 2022 by the Centre for Sustainable Development of the City of Espoo. The webinar was part of the Solution Path to Sustainable Growth Ecosystems (RAKKE)(external link) project. The results of the project will ensure that Espoo and Uusimaa are at the forefront of achieving the UN Agenda 2030 and its 17 sustainable development goals and carbon neutrality, as well as economic recovery.

The RAKKE project supports the green transition from fossil fuels to alternative fuels by accelerating the electrification of transport and building a biogas ecosystem. The project has received funding to support Uusimaa’s Sustainable Growth and Vitality (UKKE).

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Tiia Tuuri

Development Manager, ecosystems040 636 9757
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