Wood-based methane is feasible and has potential

A conference of the Swiss gas industry has shown: if scrap wood as well as bio waste were used in bio gas production, bio gas facilities in Switzerland could play a significant role in energy production.

"Bio gas and the methanation of Wood" – this was the title of a conference organised by the  Verband der Schweizerischen Gasindustrie VSG and the Schweizerischen Verein des Gas- und Wasserfaches SVGW. Interested parties were invited to discuss the future of wood-based bio gas in Berne on 29 June 2015.

The event focused on a recently published feasibility study on the methanation of wood in rural areas (in Mont-la-Ville, VD). The study shows that the exploitation of scrap wood in addition to bio waste would potentially be sufficient to feed several medium-sized bio gas facilities in Switzerland. According to the study, the technology for such facilities already exists and the actual costs are expected to sink in the medium term. The calculations of the study are based on criteria such as the abundance of waste wood, short transport routes and the availability of suitable sites. Meeting these criteria could slow down the process and make it more costly in some cases, but on the industrialised Swiss plateau that should not pose a major problem. The Swiss Federal Office of Energy (SFOE) and the Forschungs-, Entwicklungs- und Förderungsfonds der Schweizerischen Gasindustrie (FOGA), who commissioned the study, are considering the option of offering financial support to a commercial facility for the methanation of scrap wood if it can serve as a beacon of how the targets of Energy Strategy 2050 could be achieved.

A more extensive report will appear in the issue no. 10/2015 of the review Aqua & Gas.