Taking advantage of the vastly underused European biogas potential : break-even conditions for a fuel cell and an engine as biogas converters

[+] Author and Article Information
Samuel Majerus

GEM Group, EPFL, Sion, Valais, Switzerland

Dirk Lauinger

Centre d'Energie & Risk Analytics and Optimization Chair, Ecole polytechnique federale de Lausanne, Lausanne, Vaud, Switzerland

Jan Van Herle

GEM Group, Ecole polytechnique federale de Lausanne, Sion, Valais, Switzerland

1Corresponding author.

ASME doi:10.1115/1.4039045 History: Received June 08, 2017; Revised January 02, 2018


In this study, the European biogas market and its potential is analysed. The four countries with the biggest biogas production and potential, namely Germany, Italy, France, and the United Kingdom, are studied in detail. Particular attention is paid to their agricultural characteristics (livestock population, average number of cattle per agricultural holding, number of farms), as well as their policy and market conditions (feed-in tariffs, average biogas investment costs). A financial model is built and used to compare the four countries, based on the net present value (NPV) as the performance indicator. Solid Oxide Fuel Cells (SOFCs) are considered as a more efficient alternative for valorising agricultural-derived biogas, which at the moment is vastly done with cheaper conventional engines. After an analysis of the economic merits, target farm sizes are recommended for each country. It is shown that the low valorisation of manure-derived biogas in Europe offers a big opportunity for the commercialisation of SOFCs and for a push towards mass-production. Considering the high installation costs, it is still primordial that policy-makers incentivize the installation of biogas plants throughout the EU.

Copyright (c) 2018 by ASME
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