Biomethane to natural gas grid injection
A technological innovation system analysis
Biomethane (upgraded form of biogas) holds unlocked potential as a substitute to fossil natural gas, in terms of achieving climate reduction targets as well as developing a locally secured fuel supply. Biomethane is fully compatible with the existing natural gas grid infrastructure. Currently, nine countries in European Union are practicing natural gas grid injection. Remaining countries are in various phases of development concerning production and utilisation of biomethane. Successful deployment of a biomethane project requires coordinated action in terms of academic, industrial and economic co-operation. It demands established legal and political framework as well as supporting financial conditions. The thesis mainly aims at researching - How does the state of development of biomethane generation and utilization gets affected by the support activities within a countries policy framework? The theoretical framework of "Technological Innovation System (TIS)" provides a methodological approach to assess the development of an upcoming technology under the existing policies, regulatory and financial conditions. In the given study, the framework of TIS is adapted to the technology of "biomethane generation and injection into natural gas grid". This adaptation led to the development of: 1. Detailed overlapping matrix of the main structural components i.e. Actors, Networks and Institutions and their corresponding activities across the value chain. 2. Development of a set of diagnostic questions and performance indicators, enabling an assessment of the dynamics of the technological system, eventually leading to the identification of strengths and weaknesseses in the system. The adapted technological system analysis framework is further applied on two countries "Germany and UK" as case studies. With the aid of diagnostic questions, the dynamic system characteristics in each countries context are evaluated. Germany reveals a well-functioning biomethane TIS. Considerable knowledge base and experience is available, appropriate policies and financial incentives are in place, dedicated organisations are established to address the technological and industrial issues. Germany currently has a market promoting biomethane utilisation via CHP applications. Further growth can be expected by addressing increased resource mobilisation for fulfilling a larger share of heat demand and application as renewable transport fuel. Biomethane industry in UK is in its nascent stages and there are two upgrading plants in operation. Analysis of the system functions within UK, signals a healthy biogas industry, but there is lack of activity within the "biomethane" context. Currently, the industry is in the stage of knowledge development. Biomethane production is well communicated within national strategies. The key technical issues being encountered by the industry are a focus of research. A balanced market formation would require increasing the resource mobilisation in terms of availability of skilled manpower as well as ease of access to financial capital. The industry is currently experiencing pilot trials and subsequent dissemination of information of the results of these trials to the stakeholders in the value chain is recommended. This knowledge diffusion coupled with increased resource mobilisation will result in an increased market formation. Overall, Technological Innovation System (TIS) has been an effective tool to evaluate the national approach towards development and deployment of biomethane as a technology and assists in systematic identification of the strengths and weaknesseses of the system. It provides a methodological approach to statically and dynamically analyse biomethane development strategy within a given region and can also assist in benchmarking the development conditions in more than one region.
Stockholm, KTH School of Industrial Engineering and Management, Master Thesis, 2012