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European cities turn waste into a renewable energy source

6 May 2014

The conversion of solid waste into biomethane may help reduce landfill and meet cities’ energy needs, according to findings from the UrbanBiogas project. The three-year project, which was funded by the Intelligent Energy for Europe (IEE) programme, helped five partner cities to confront the dual challenges of waste reduction and energy production by converting significant amounts of waste into biogas using anaerobic digestion. Project results showed a direct correlation between the level of political will and the likelihood of successfully integrating biogas into the municipal energy mix.

Following the 1999 EU Landfill Directive and the 2006 EU Waste Directive, there is significant pressure on local governments to reduce the amount of potentially recyclable waste being sent to landfill. The 2009 Renewable Energy Directive also placed an emphasis on the need for increased investment in renewable energy. By upgrading the biogas produced through anaerobic digestion to biomethane quality and incorporating it into the natural gas network, the UrbanBiogas project aimed to help cities comply with all three Directives.

Pilot projects in partner cities Valmiera (Latvia) and Graz (Austria) were highly successful, with local officials working closely with UrbanBiogas on tenders for the construction of biogas plants which are due to be published later in 2014. In Abrantes (Portugal), a biogas plant was constructed in 2011 and a second one is due to follow. Further developments in target cities will be available on the website and on the project’s Facebook group.

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