Biogas technology is the answer to Cyprus energy mix

08 January, 2019 | Posted By: Anthi Charalambous

The world’s financial and energy crisis indicates the need to explore in depth all the alternative sources of energy, especially the Renewable Energy Sources (RES).

Biogas technology from farming and urban organic waste can be the key factor for the Cyprus energy mix, replacing the imported and polluting fossil fuels.

Cyprus is ranked third in the solid waste generation per capita in the EU. Today the European Union covers a great percentage of its energy needs from the use of biomass. 

The contribution of biomass and the biogas production is expected to be very crucial in the energy mix at a European level.

This contribution will lead directly to the reduction of the greenhouse gases, to the reduction of the negative effects of non-rational organic waste treatment and to the creation of new job opportunities especially in the rural areas.

Biogas, a renewable energy source, is produced by the anaerobic digestion of many feedstocks (waste from pig farms, dairy farms, slaughterhouses etc.), waste and sewage from the industrial sector and from urban organic waste.

A typical constitution of biogas is 65% methane and 35% dioxide carbon. Biogas can be used to produce heat and electric energy and moreover it can be used as a fuel in internal combustion engines.

A cubic meter of biogas contains the same energy equal with 0.66 litres of diesel or 0.75 litres of petroleum or 0.85 kilos of coal.

When biogas burns in cogeneration (combined heat and electricity) engines, it produces green electric energy that can be transferred to the national grid and moreover useful heat to cover a farm’s thermal needs.

In Cyprus today 11 biogas plant units are in operation with a total installed capacity of 9.77MW. As a result of these plants, their annual electric energy production is 54GWh and the useful thermal energy production is 25GWh.

The electric energy which is produced by these plants represents 1% of the total electric energy that is produced annually in Cyprus.

There are some important advantages for the biogas utilisation for energy production in Cyprus:

•24/7: The electricity production of the biogas plants has no fluctuations during the whole 24 hours of the day, in contrast with other Renewable Energy Sources.

•A biogas plant can resolve several environmental aspects and reduce odour issues of the farm waste.

•Reduction of the organic waste that is being transferred to the landfills and treatment plants. New legislative proposals for circular economy have come into force and the organic fraction of MSW going to landfills should be eliminated. 

•Reduction of the use of primary fuels used for heating

However, the National Support Schemes in Cyprus provide the lowest Feed-in tariff since the beginning of their operation. The current Feed-in-Tariff in Cyprus, which is €0.1213 per kWh for many years has been even lower than the avoidance production cost of the Electricity Provider (EAC). 

In Cyprus it is estimated 25 MW of untapped biogas production potential due to lack of financial incentives.

According to a techno-economic study prepared by the Cyprus Biogas Association and the Cyprus Employers & Industrialists Federation (OEB), the guaranteed price should be increased to €0.195 / kWh, so that biogas investments become economically viable.

Biogas plants contribute to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and solve significant problems of organic waste management in Cyprus.

The targets of GHG emissions reductions for 2030 are very ambitious, and the Cyprus Government should undertake all necessary measures to achieve them.

Biogas, if appropriately supported, can also contribute to the transport RES target. If biogas is compressed, it can replace compressed natural gas for use in vehicles.