“Biomethane trade should become a part of German-Ukrainian cooperation for the green transition”
On June 15th, LibMod organized a Round Table on the prospects of a German-Ukrainian biomethane cooperation where the representatives from politics and business as well as experts from both countries discussed the potential of biomethane production in Ukraine, its role in facilitating a green transition, and economic and legislative challenges for the trade development.
Deputy minister of energy of Ukraine, Mykola Kolisnyk, Members of the Energy Committee of the Ukrainian Parliament, representatives of the German-Ukrainian Energy Partnership, representatives of industry and energy experts from both countries, as well as a representative of the EU delegation to Ukraine took part in a discussion that opened a whole range of complex questions concerning the potential of biomethane and the hurdles standing in a way of the bilateral trade.
Why is biomethane important for a green transition?
Biomethane is a renewable equivalent of natural gas and is virtually CO2 neutral: During combustion, it releases only as much CO2 as the processed plants sequestered during their growth. Since it is chemically identical to natural gas, biomethane can be used to produce thermal and electrical energy, for cooking, and as fuel for vehicles the same as natural gas. It can also be used as a raw material for the chemical industry.
By converting domestic waste and agricultural by-products into energy, while ensuring the recycling of nutrients to agricultural land, biomethane production showcases as an excellent example for a circular economy and as a renewable source of flexibility, biomethane can effectively support the expansion of wind and solar power.
Replacing natural gas with biomethane can be one of the potential paths on the way to phasing out fossil fuels and would contribute to enhancing energy security.
Ukraine’s potential for biomethane production
With the largest area of agricultural land in Europe, Ukraine boasts significant potential for biomethane production and can supply the cheapest raw materials for it. Ukraine’s biogas (that can be refined to biomethane) is produced from animal waste, harvest residues of agricultural crops, solid household waste, sewage sludge, corn silage, cover crops and other materials.
According to REPowerEU, the European Commission’s plan to produce clean energy and diversify energy suppliers, the EU needs 35 billion m3/year of biomethane in 2030. Ukraine can potentially provide up to 20% of this need.
There are 77 biogas plants in Ukraine, and the first biomethane plant was opened in Chernihiv region, which was liberated from the Russian invaders last spring. The plant started operation in April 2023 on the base of the existing biogas plant. There is no need for building new infrastructure, as biomethane is effectively injected into the existing natural gas grid.
More biomethane plants are planned to open already this year. However, these plans might be frozen if the import to the EU is not possible, which is currently the case. Although there is no formal ban on biomethane import unlike natural gas (due to the war), there are still several restrictions on the customs part, which make import virtually impossible.
Despite the ongoing war, Ukraine established its biomethane register in January 2023 for documenting the volume of biomethane submitted to the gas transmission or gas distribution system, forming guarantees, and providing certificates of origin of biomethane.
Obstacles to the import
While there is a big demand and willingness in Germany to import Ukrainian biomethane, it is currently impossible to start cooperation in this area. Though most obstacles are of economical nature and not regulatory, some hurdles (like customs challenges, the prohibition of importing biogas through a pipeline, etc.) make biomethane import from Ukraine impossible. Also, to make it a relevant business case, Ukrainian biomethane must be certified under German regulations to fit in the subsidy scheme.
A case of the German-Danish bilateral agreement can be a good prototype for cooperation in the field of biomethane. Dena, which operates the German Biogas Register, and Energinet, which operates a biogas register for Denmark, have a mutual acknowledgment of biomethane certifications from both countries. For customers of both registers, this facilitates the cross-border transfer of biomethane.
At the same time, an EU-wide solution to remove existing trade barriers for importing green gas from Ukraine is also being sought.
The huge potential that Ukraine, as Europe’s biggest agricultural land, has for bioenergy should be developed as a part of a sustainable reconstruction and modernisation. Ukrainian business is ready to invest and expand the production as of now, even in regions close to the border with Russia or Belarus. Germany and the EU can play an important role in this process by fostering trade relations and carrying out the green transition together with Ukraine. To enable this, political will from both sides is needed to tackle the legislative challenges that impede the development of biomethane trade.
Did you like thike this article? If yes, you can support the independent editorial work and journalism of LibMod via a simple donation tool.
Donate via PayPal
We are recognized as a non-profit organization, accordingly donations are tax deductible. For a donation receipt (necessary for an amount over 200 EUR), please send your address data to firstname.lastname@example.org
Stay tuned with our regular newsletter about all our relevant subjects.