Ten years of biogas solutions and more to come

At the end of last year, the Swedish Energy Agency granted an application for a new competence center with focus on biogas research – Biogas Solutions Research Center. Mats Eklund and Kalle Svensson reflect on the past ten years with BRC and the future of BSRC and biogas.

Mats Eklund. Mats Eklund is a professor at the Department of Management and Engineering the director of BSRC. Magnus Johansson

The new competence centre is founded on Biogas Research Center, BRC, which now, after ten years, has been concluded. The purpose of the centre is to increase knowledge about socio-technical energy systems that contain biogas-based solutions. Mats Eklund is the director of BSRC.

Why is a competence centre needed?
– Biogas is a cross-sectoral solution that includes waste management, transport, agriculture, and much more. Therefore, different parts of society need to be involved and gather around those issues. Previously, it was difficult to get biogas users involved, but now the interest grows with several large companies, such as SSAB and Perstorp, connected. As more large companies commit, the entire sector is revitalized. We see that more companies are prepared to join a competence centre to ensure that the biogas sector can deliver what the companies need for a transition to sustainable production.

Are there specific factors of success?
– In a competence centre like this, diversity is the key. In addition, we have had continuity, some of the large companies have been involved from the beginning and really believed in biogas as a solution. But it is also important that new blood comes in with new perspectives. Stability and renewal in balance.

Where do you see BSRC in five and ten years, respectively?
– Right now, we are on the threshold of a major breakthrough. In five years, we will probably see a substantial increase in biogas production. And in ten years, we are approaching the realization of half of the potential of biogas. Research shows that biogas production creates more value from the resources that already exist in the region.

The potential of biogas

The purpose of the competence centres that the Swedish Energy Agency finances is to strengthen the collaboration between business, the public sector, and academia to build up and make available both knowledge of the highest quality and competence for society's conversion to a sustainable energy system. Portrait Kalle Svensson.Kalle Svensson, administrator at the Swedish Energy Agency. Photo credit Anders Törneholm Kalle Svensson is an administrator at the Swedish Energy Agency and sees potential for major steps in the biogas sector.

Why is a competence centre around biogas needed?
– It fills a gap in the energy puzzle. Biogas is an important part of the transition towards a sustainable society. Ten years ago, we could see that there was a critical mass of several different actors working with biogas. It was then possible to finance BRC and broaden the perspective on biogas from the purely technical aspect. And now the next step is BRSC.

What is the difference between the start, just over ten years ago, and now?
– The competence centre has developed from regional to national and from relatively unknown to well-known within the industry. Involving SLU was important to get the agricultural perspective and we can see that it has been very successful to involve other actors to get a national expansion.

What does the biogas sector look like in 2030?
– Under certain conditions, there is great potential. We already have strong and fine development, but we also need a political landscape that supports the change and a local acceptance of these initiatives. In addition, issues of preparedness and vulnerability are becoming increasingly relevant. There, biogas has a key role to play.

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