Director of the Gas Institute of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine, Hennadiy Zhuk, took part in the World Biogas Summit (March 29-30, Birmingham, United Kingdom) with a plenary report “Biogas and biomethane in Ukraine – experience, technologies, difficulties and prospects.” The report was presented online at the Discussion Panel “Global Forum of Thought Leaders on Anaerobic Digestion and Biogas”.
The report was presented online at the Discussion Panel “Global Forum of Thought Leaders on Anaerobic Digestion and Biogas”. The report aroused great interest and discussion of the biomethane potential of Ukraine, the possibilities of investing resources and technologies.
Summary of the report
First of all, I want to thank the organizers of the summit for the opportunity to present the situation and prospects of biomethane in Ukraine. Since I represent the Research Institute of Gas of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine, I must focus on the technological aspects of the issue.
As you know, there is a war in my country caused by the Russian invasion. But we all believe in our Defense Forces, the support of our foreign friends and look forward to a new sustainable development and low-carbon economy.
Before the full-scale war, Ukraine already had 31 landfill gas power plants with an installed capacity of 32.4 MW (producing 106.6 GWh of electricity annually) and 22 anaerobic digestion biogas power plants with an installed capacity of 71 MW (produced 364.9 GWh of electricity in 2020 ). They all produce electricity, without biomethane, and the average efficiency is about 50%. But, in my opinion, Ukraine needs methane more than electricity.
For the last 1.5 years, the price of natural gas exceeded the cost of biomethane production in Ukraine (about 50 euros per MWh), but in our case, apart from the price, it is important to have the gas fuel itself. According to data kindly provided by the Bioenergy Association of Ukraine, the real potential of biomethane production in Ukraine is about 10 billion cubic meters annually, and now most of the production regions are controlled by our forces. About 75% of the potential is agricultural residues.
A typical calculation of the transition of a Ukrainian biogas plant to biomethane production looks like this: (using the example of the largest Teofipolska power plant with a capacity of 15.6 MW)
- – The total amount of investments is EUR 40 million;
- – Productivity of 6,000 m3 of biogas per hour.
If we want to compensate for the electric “green tariff” (in the case of consumption of 1 kWh for the production of 1 m3 of biomethane) – the competitive price for biomethane will be approximately 500 euros for 1000 m3.
The most competitive way of using biomethane seems to be refueling cars. Compressed gas is a good idea thanks to the developed network in Ukraine, our institute made a big contribution to this issue in the 1990s. Between half and one million cars can consume up to 1 billion cubic meters of biomethane annually. This is 10% of the total number of commercial vehicles.
Unlike ordinary methane, liquefied methane is not used at all in Ukraine. So, we can talk about the prospects of using LBG in Ukraine:
- – Small and medium-sized vessels on the Dnipro River;
- – Converted diesel city buses;
- – Heavy duty trucks or quarry trucks;
- – Provide regions with methane if pipelines are missing or destroyed.
We, at the Gas Institute, have assembled laboratory equipment for methane liquefaction, which combines several options:
- – compression;
- – throttle effect;
- – refrigeration cycle;
- – heat recovery.
and simulated several typical cycles with 40% dilution and fairly low power consumption.
We also have extensive experience and, I assume, leading positions in Ukraine in landfill gas research, including
- – drilling, gas analysis, flow rate, technical and economic substantiation (17 landfills were surveyed in Ukraine).
The first system of biogas production in Ukraine with the generation of electricity into the national grid was implemented by the LNK company and our specialists in 2012.
- – The installed capacity was 1 MW (In 2015, the capacity was increased to 2 MW).
Today, we have 7 commissioned plants with a total installed capacity of 7.5 MW.
Today in Ukraine, all extracted or produced biogas is used for electricity production. Biogas can also be a source of commercial products – biomethane and carbon dioxide.
For the extraction of methane from biogas, we conduct research with the original modified amine aqueous solution. Despite the fact that membrane technology takes advantage and water absorption is widely used, the proposed separation of amines has some advantages – energy consumption is reduced by 1.5-2 times compared to the usual amine solution, there is no loss of methane. In 2018, the first laboratory unit for separating biogas into carbon dioxide and biomethane was created in Ukraine. The purity of biomethane meets the national standard for pipeline gas.
Enrichment of landfill gas with methane has a positive effect on electricity production. The three-year experience of operation of the 500 kW power plant in the city of Kamianets-Podilskyi (LTD “MIZHNARODNYY TSENTR HAZOVYKH TEKHNOLOHIY”) showed a decrease in fuel consumption and an increase in capacity against the background of an increase in methane concentration.
Using the potential of biogas and biomethane becomes even more significant in wartime. About $7 billion is the loss of energy infrastructure due to the Russian invasion last year. Power drop in various types of generation – from 30 to 90%. At the same time, biogas power plants continue to supply electricity to local consumers – not a lot, but steadily.
As can be seen from the fuel balance, Ukraine’s import needs are significant – about 50% in thermal coal, more than 80% in petroleum products and 30% in natural gas. Biogas can solve this problem, at least partially, by:
- – electricity production;
- – replacement of natural gas in pipelines;
- – compressed biomethane – for methane vehicles;
- – liquefied biomethane – for motor vehicles and pipeline transport.
Now our biomethane activity in Ukraine is regulated by the following documents
- – World and European standards;
- – National waste management strategy;
- – Law “On Alternative Fuels”, on the development of biomethane production;
- – Law “On Waste Management”;
- – Memorandum between Ukraine and the EU on biomethane, hydrogen and other synthetic gases;
- – Ukraine recovery plan.
We are also making great efforts to develop hydrogen technologies – its production, transportation, burning, etc. Very interesting and promising work that we do combines the issues of hydrogen and methane, for example:
- – synthetic production of methane by combining green hydrogen with carbon dioxide;
- – biomass gasification using electrolytic oxygen.
A few words about the Ukrainian pipeline. This is a huge structure that has 40,000 km of main gas pipelines and 250,000 km of local distribution pipelines. The government of Ukraine is doing everything possible for the successful supply of biomethane to the pipeline, for example, the limit of oxygen content has been increased tenfold for main pipelines and up to 1% for distribution pipelines.
What advantages does Ukraine have for the production of biogas and biomethane?
- A huge amount of organic waste (agricultural, manure, solid household waste, etc.).
- Large natural gas pipeline system and supply infrastructure.
- Large market of natural gas consumers.
- Export opportunities and large underground storage facilities.
- Digestate is very necessary for agricultural producers.
- Technological and scientific potential.
And what are Ukraine’s needs?
- First of all – finances (the production of 2 billion cubic meters per year requires about 3.2 billion dollars)
- Technological support and equipment:
- – Compressors;
- – Membrane material;
- – AD equipment;
- – etc.