International Journal of Energy Research, Vol.44, No.3, 2264-2277, 2020
Farm-scale bio-power-to-methane: Comparative analyses of economic and environmental feasibility
Power-to-gas technologies are considered to be part of the future energy system, but their viability and applicability need to be assessed. Therefore, models for the viability of farm-scale bio-power-to-methane supply chains to produce green gas were analysed in terms of levelised cost of energy, energy efficiency and saving of greenhouse gas emission. In bio-power-to-methane, hydrogen from electrolysis driven by surplus renewable electricity and carbon dioxide from biogas are converted to methane by microbes in an ex situ trickle-bed reactor. Such bio-methanation could replace the current upgrading of biogas to green gas with membrane technology. Four scenarios were compared: a reference scenario without bio-methanation (A), bio-methanation (B), bio-methanation combined with membrane upgrading (C) and the latter with use of renewable energy only (all-green; D). The reference scenario (A) has the lowest costs for green gas production, but the bio-methanation scenarios (B-D) have higher energy efficiencies and environmental benefits. The higher costs of the bio-methanation scenarios are largely due to electrolysis, whereas the environmental benefits are due to the use of renewable electricity. Only the all-green scenario (D) meets the 2026 EU goal of 80% reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, but it would require a CO2 price of 200 euro t(-1) to achieve the levelised cost of energy of 65 euroct Nm(-3) of the reference scenario. Inclusion of the intermittency of renewable energy in the scenarios substantially increases the costs. Further greening of the bio-methanation supply chain and how intermittency is best taken into account need further investigation.