Natural gas price explosion: what if we replaced Russian gas with Walloon biogas? (white card) – Belgium

With gas prices skyrocketing and dependence on Russian resources now raising questions, Belgium should become less dependent on foreign countries, according to Pierre Eyben and Natalia Claasen, co-spokesmen of the Mouvement Demain. Proposing to shift energy production, particularly by focusing on biogas.

The current political crisis with Russia following Ukraine’s military aggression has highlighted the complete lack of coherence in our political actions. As we impose economic sanctions on Russia, We continue to buy gas from him at gold prices. The same reasoning applies to oil bought by Gulf dictatorships like Saudi Arabia, which is waging a murderous war in Yemen.

You hardly hear about alternatives to this situation only solutions that aren’t : expand nuclear power (more than 20% of the uranium used in European nuclear power comes… from Russia), welcome more LNG tankers in Zeebrugge (particularly from the Qatar dictatorship) or even switch to shale gas (very polluting) . Everything is offered except make us more independent from other countries and to shift our energy production by relying primarily on our own resources. And yet it is possible!

In 2019 vzw Valbiom published an exciting study on the potential of biogas in Belgium. This study showed that the so-called “realistic” biogas potential was 15.6 TWh (of which 53% in Wallonia). The so-called “improved theoretical” potential, which also includes energetic catch crops (ie independent plants that are between two main crops in the crop rotation and therefore do not compete for food), is even 23.6 TWh.

For comparison: 15 TWh represents approximately 8.2% of our annual gas consumption in Belgium … more than all Russian gas (6.7%). Destined for CNG mobility, this biomethane would power nearly 2 million passenger cars. The Walloon field alone, dedicated to the gas distribution network, could account for almost 50% of Walloon household electricity consumption. This could avoid 6 million tons of CO2 per year, which is about 88% of the savings that all of Belgium is expected to achieve by 2030 under the National Climate Energy Plan. In short, it’s a gigantic deposit!

So why is only a few percent of this renewable potential being used (and also being extremely flexible to compensate for fluctuations in other renewable energy sources such as solar or wind)? Presumably because of Dominance of a logic of short-term profitability in our economy. As long as there was cheap energy, nobody seriously invested in this sector, with a few exceptions.

But today natural gas prices have risen so much that our biogas is even very profitable. Bio-CNG (based on manure and manure) for example is now worth around €1.2/kg, while conventional CNG is sometimes sold for more than €4/kg at the pump.

Instead of seeking our salvation in other alien sources of energy, this is laying is therefore an essential path in addition to the necessary reduction in our primary consumption, which must continue to have priority. It also has many virtuous aspects when done with good intelligence and respect for nature. It is imperative preserve our green and agricultural spaces, and put an end to man-made soil. In addition to their essential role as suppliers of food, farmers will thus become recyclers of organic waste, energy producers, job creators and, more than ever, full-fledged drivers of the energy and agroecological turnaround. Finally, our country is gaining energy autonomy, better controlling its energy costs and being able to act more coherently at international level.

Therefore, not having the good taste to think outside the logic of the market and anticipate the current situation, the Walloon regional authorities would be well advised to do sofinally release significant public funds to immediately develop and promote this future sector.

Pierre Eyben and Natalia Claasen, co-speakers of the Mouvement Demain

The current political crisis with Russia following Ukraine’s military aggression has highlighted the complete lack of coherence in our political actions. As we impose economic sanctions on Russia, we continue to buy gas there at gold prices. The same reasoning applies to oil bought by Gulf dictatorships like Saudi Arabia, which is waging a murderous war in Yemen. As alternatives to this situation, we almost only hear solutions that are not: the extension of nuclear power (more than 20% of the uranium used in European nuclear power comes … from Russia), the inclusion of more LNG tankers in Zeebrugge (especially from Russia). the Qatar dictatorship) or even the switch to shale gas (very harmful to the environment). Everything is proposed except making us more independent from foreign countries and shifting our energy production, relying mainly on our own resources. And yet it is possible! In 2019 vzw Valbiom published an exciting study on the potential of biogas in Belgium. This study showed that the so-called “realistic” biogas potential was 15.6 TWh (of which 53% in Wallonia). The so-called “improved theoretical” potential, which also includes energetic catch crops (ie independent plants that are between two main crops in the crop rotation and therefore do not compete for food), is even 23.6 TWh. For comparison, 15 TWh accounts for about 8.2% of our annual gas consumption in Belgium… more than all Russian gas (6.7%). Destined for CNG mobility, this biomethane would power nearly 2 million passenger cars. The Walloon field alone, dedicated to the gas distribution network, could account for almost 50% of Walloon household electricity consumption. This could avoid 6 million tons of CO2 per year, which is about 88% of the savings that all of Belgium is expected to achieve by 2030 under the National Climate Energy Plan. In short, it’s a gigantic resource! So why is only a few percent of this renewable potential (and also extremely flexible to compensate for fluctuations in other renewable energy sources such as solar or wind) being used? Probably because of the dominance of a logic of short-term profitability in our economy. As long as there was cheap energy, nobody seriously invested in this sector, with a few exceptions. But today natural gas prices have risen so much that our biogas is even very profitable. For example, bio-CNG (based on manure and manure) is now worth around €1.2/kg, while conventional CNG is sometimes sold at the pump for more than €4/kg. Instead of seeking our salvation in other foreign energy sources, this shift is therefore an essential path, in addition to the necessary reduction in our primary consumption, which must remain a priority. It also has many virtuous aspects when done with good intelligence and respect for nature. She calls for our green spaces and agricultural areas to be preserved and for soil to be put to an end. In addition to their essential role as suppliers of food, farmers will thus become recyclers of organic waste, energy producers, job creators and, more than ever, full-fledged drivers of the energy and agroecological turnaround. Finally, our country is gaining energy autonomy, better controlling its energy costs and being able to act more coherently at international level. Without having had the good taste to think outside the logic of the market and to anticipate the current situation, the Walloon regional authorities would therefore be well advised to finally release significant public funds to further develop and promote this sector delay.Pierre Eyben and Natalia Claasen , co-spokesman of the Mouvement Demain

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