Biomethane development and its evolution in the transport industry

Today, thanks to recent technology developments, methane gas can be produced from biological waste and, after adequate treatment, input to the distribution network, mixing it with gas from natural sources. This is called biomethane, a mix composed of 97% methane.

Based on a recent European study, it is estimated that gas produced from renewable sources (renewable hydrogen and biomethane), when used in the existing infrastructures, can play a vital role in reducing emissions in Europe by 2050, reaching an annual production of over 120 billion cubic metres with a saving of around €140 billion

Source: The Gas for Climate Consortium, whose members are Snam, Enagás, Fluxys, Gasunie, GRTgaz, Open Grid Europe and TIGF as well as two associations operating in the renewable gas sector (Consorzio Italiano Biogas and European Biogas Association).

There are plans in Italy, backed by Confagricoltura and the Consorzio Italiano Biogas, to produce up to 10% of total Italian demand for gas by 2030. A recent study in France demonstrated that, in theory, in 2050 it will be possible to satisfy the entire domestic gas demand with renewable gas.

Integrated and renewable

Gas and other energy sources

Here at Italgas, we are working to ensure that there is an integrated production and usage system of clean energy in all our futures, where the excess electricity from renewable sources can be used to produce gas. A “synthetic” gas which is added to biomethane, generated from waste in accordance with circular economy principles.

In particular, the aim by 2050 of reducing atmospheric emissions of carbon dioxide by 80% compared to the 1990 levels (2015 Paris Agreement on climate change signed by 196 countries, including Italy) is a major challenge for EU countries.

Gas and its infrastructure are flexible by nature and their flexibility can therefore be put to use in the electricity sector

Flexibility sources

An increasingly renewable energy system also calls for greater flexibility, which can be guaranteed through traditional “reserve” plant availability, that can be put into operation as needed (a particularly costly solution), or through interaction between the electricity infrastructure and the gas network, for example Power-to-Gas (P2G) and microgeneration (mCHP).

Power to Gas (P2G) - Electricity-Gas conversion using electrolysis

Through a clean and sustainable chemical process, the water is transformed, releasing oxygen into hydrogen, which can then be mixed with methane in the distribution network or be transformed into methane by adding CO2. Therefore if the source of electricity powering the electrolysis process is renewable, the resulting gas will also be fully renewable. If CO2 from an industrial source is used, an additional benefit in terms of reduced greenhouse gas emissions is achieved.

MicroCHP (CHP) - Small-scale “combined” energy and heat production

With the aid of a combustion engine, the gas is used to produce combined electricity and heat for central heating or hot water, instantly adapting to the user’s needs. If electricity is needed, any residual heat serves to heat water which is then stored for later use. If heat is needed, any excess electricity generated is input to the city network and sold on the market. In this case, the user also becomes a producer of energy, or a so-called “prosumer”, and earns a small profit.

Safe and connected


Digitisation of the network

Tendentially, the entire gas system could be governed in real time, through virtual data exchange between the control panels in our apartments, smart meters, distributor operation rooms, dispatching centres on the transportation network and the gas storage and electricity generation facilities.

The infrastructures along the entire gas chain will be involved in this digitisation process, not just distribution, but also the long-distance transportation, storage capacity (the deposits), gas liquefying and regasification infrastructures. A complex chain, of which Italgas forms an integral part, that works together strategically and with enormous innovative capacity.

Today, Italgas is working to install smart meters, able to automatically calculate and report the consumption data read without operator intervention.

In the future we hope to remotely manage the network opening and shut-off valves, odouriser mixing and pressure reduction, and to adopt predictive maintenance approaches based on parameters recorded on plant operations, without waiting for breakage or the end of their useful life.

<p style="text-align: center;">of meters changed</p>

of meters changed

<p style="text-align: center;">of meters still to be changed</p>

of meters still to be changed

<p style="text-align: center;">invested in network modernisation</p>

invested in network modernisation

ultimo aggiornamento Tue Jun 12 15:39:46 UTC 2018