Research Papers

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,
Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne,
Sion 1950, Valais, Switzerland
e-mail: samuel.majerus@almuni.epfl.ch

Dirk Lauinger

Centre d'Energie & Risk Analytics
and Optimization Chair,
Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne,
Lausanne 1015, Vaud, Switzerland

Jan Van herle

GEM Group,
Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne,
Sion 1950, Valais, Switzerland

1Corresponding author.

Manuscript received June 8, 2017; final manuscript received January 2, 2018; published online April 9, 2018. Assoc. Editor: Jacob R. Bowen.

J. Electrochem. En. Conv. Stor. 15(3), 031006 (Apr 09, 2018) (7 pages) Paper No: JEECS-17-1067; doi: 10.1115/1.4039045 History: Received June 08, 2017; Revised January 02, 2018

In this study, the European biogas market and its potential are analyzed. The four countries with the biggest biogas production and potential, namely Germany, Italy, France, and the UK, 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 as the performance indicator. Solid oxide fuel cells (SOFCs) are considered as a more efficient alternative for valorizing 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 valorization of manure-derived biogas in Europe offers a big opportunity for the commercialization of SOFCs and for a push toward mass production. Considering the high installation costs, it is still primordial that policy-makers incentivize the installation of biogas plants throughout the EU.

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Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 1

Primary production of biogas in the EU 28, data from Ref. [15]

Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 2

Break-even conditions—France—ICE (εeff = 35%)

Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 3

Break-even conditions—France—SOFC (εeff = 50%)

Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 4

Break-even conditions—Germany comparison ICE/SOFC

Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 5

Break-even conditions for all the cases with average specific cost and farm size—SOFC (εeff = 50%)

Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 6

Break-even conditions for all the cases with average specific cost and farm size—ICE (εeff = 35%)



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