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Export of Danish biogas technology can create 20,000 jobs

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Export of Danish biogas technology can create 20,000 jobs
Systems for collecting organic waste are in place in many Danish municipalities and businesses. File photo: Kim Haugaard/Scanpix Denmark
08:18 CET+01:00
Utilisation of manure, coffee grounds, hay, organic industrial waste - and plenty of other organic matter - to produce biogas can provide Denmark with 20,000 extra jobs and exports worth 16 billion kroner (2.1 billion euros).

Export of biogas technology is expected to reach growth of at least 100 per cent by 2035, but could exceed expectations, reaching as much as 900 per cent growth and 20,000 new Danish jobs, compared to the current 2,000 jobs in the field, writes dibusiness.dk.

These are the scenarios laid out in an analysis from consulting agency Damvad Analytics, which has examined the industry, Danish research in the field and international developments.

"Our analysis is based on knowledge of general expectations for export of energy technology and of the development in Denmark, where biogas makes up a constantly increasing portion of the gas in the pipeline network. We have based our evaluation of the export potential on various scenarios for what it might mean for Denmark if other countries undergo the same development, and if Danish companies are able to maintain their market share," said Damvad CEO Kristian Mørk Puggaard.

There is good reason to believe that this will happen. According to the report, the amount of biogas in pipeline networks in Denmark, Belgium, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Sweden and Germany is expected to increase from 11 TWh (terawatt hours) today to 17 TWh in 2020.

The latter figure is equivalent to the heat and hot water consumption of approximately one million households.

"It is France's ambition that the country's gas consumption be 100 percent based on biogas in 2050. Meanwhile, France is an ideal export market because the country also has a strong food industry that can supply the volume of biomass required," explains Puggaard.

Denmark is an international leader within biogas, a position that ought to pay off in the form of increased exports, the Damvad CEO added.

"The world's biggest biogas plant is under construction in Denmark, and that indicates some of our strength. What is more, Danish research in the field is of very high quality compared to that of other countries, and the knowledge it leads to ought to be able to help Danish technology maintain its big international market share," he said.

READ ALSO: Apple to fund biogas research in Denmark

One of the companies that is looking forward to taking advantage of the major export potential is Nature Energy from Funen. Until recently, the company was owned by seven local municipalities, but in December, the majority of its activities were sold to foreign investors with expectations of major export growth.

"As of yet, we have no exports. But investors have been promised that it will happen, and we are examining the opportunities for export to western Europe, the US and other places that already have a large gas consumption, access to large volumes of biomass, and the ambition to decrease or eliminate their dependency on fossil fuels," said CEO Ole Hvelplund.

Denmark is far ahead in terms of the development of high-tech plants with high energy yield, very little odour nuisance and good opportunities for utilising the residual product from gasification for fertilisation, Hvelplund said.

"We are also working with subsuppliers that are constantly getting better at separating organic waste from inorganic. Among other things, we receive unsold organic material from retail, where a sorting plant separates packaging and other undesired elements from the organic material. As these technologies become more developed, it will be an extra sales parameter for turnkey biogas plants," he said.

For Denmark, biomass gasification also has the important advantage of helping to lower greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture. When manure is processed in a biogas plant, the amount of methane emissions decreases by 41 per cent.

"In Denmark, agriculture is responsible for approximately a third of greenhouse gas emissions from the sectors not subject to quotas, and the EU has required that the sector reduce its emissions. Biogas plants are therefore an excellent way of fulfilling some of the environmental requirements that are expected in the sector," said Danish Bioenergy Federation head of secretariat Michael Persson.

Denmark has a significant cluster of technology companies in the biogas field that will have a strong starting position in export markets thanks to their experience and development at home, according to Persson.

"In short, if we manage to maintain and expand our leading position in the field, we are in store for a major export adventure," Persson said.

READ ALSO: One in three Danish municipalities now collects biodegradable waste

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