Although in Colombia the biogas and biomethane production It is still at an early stage, the industry is beginning to carry out various projects to implement them as a source of renewable resources, which allows us to envision a promising future for these energy sources.

According to the study ‘Estimation of the biogas conversion potential of biomass in Colombia’ carried out by the National University of Colombia and Upme, as well as data from companies in the sector, the departments with the highest biogas availability are Antioquia, Cundinamarca, Valle del Cauca, MetaSantander, Casanare, Cesar, Atlántico, Bolívar, Risaralda and Cauca.

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In fact, according to this same study, the potential for biogas generation from residual biomass prioritized in these departments correspond to 10,447 terajoules per year (9,894,669 mbtu), which is equivalent to 8 percent of the energy supplied by natural gas in 2012.

For the Colombian Natural Gas Association (Naturgas), these data represent a viable and sustainable opportunity for the energy production in rural and urban areasimproving the quality of life of Colombians while decarbonizing its value chain.

Paves the way to promote the diversification of energy sources

«Thanks to the potential of available residual biomass processes generated in different production plants in the country, it opens the way to promote the diversification of energy sources through the use of renewable energies such as hydrogen, biogas and biomethaneas strategic allies to materialize the energy transition and carbon neutrality in 2050”, says Luz Stella Murgas, president of Naturgas.

Among the sectors that promote biogas development, sugarcane stands out, the leader in the production of bioenergy in Colombia, thanks to the use of sugarcane bagasse as fuel for its boilers and the production of ethanol, which is mixed with gasoline and later supplied to the transportation sector.

To the date, four sugar mills have plants to treat their effluentswith an approximate capacity of 7,480 tons per day.

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Hernando Herrera/EL TIEMPO

On the other hand, the oil palm industry produce biogas from the anaerobic digestion of wastewater from palm oil extraction plants and is characterized by its high methane content (50 to 60 percent), which allows it to be redirected to thermal or electrical generation.

Currently, its production reaches 133 million cubic meters per year, for an electrical generation of 60 megawatts.

In the pig sector, this energy source is produced with the help of organic waste (pig manure), by means of bag-type and Taiwan biodigesters, which process a flow of 1,200 tons of effluents per day, with a production of 600 m3/h of biogas at 63 percent methane, for a generation of 576,000 KW/month.

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Its strengthening of the regulation and flexibility of parameters that
facilitate its development

Other initiatives have also been found in the agro-industrial sector, whose production chains are related to agriculture, an example of which is the brewing and dairy industry.

In this sector, processes for the use of organic matter have been advanced, where 1,935 cubic meters of biogas are used per day and purification technologies are developed, producing 400 cubic meters per hour with 60 percent methane content.

Regarding the production of biomethane, this energy source has established itself as an ideal complement to the natural gas that is making its way in the country. EPM strengthened the biogas generated in the San Francisco Ptar to improve it to biomethane and inject it into the network for home use, harnessing 600,000 cubic meters of renewable gasequivalent to serving 10,000 homes, an operation that would begin in August of this year.

According to Naturgas, Colombia has a promising future for these new energy sources, however, their strengthening it needs regulation and flexibility of parameters that facilitate its developmentwhich will allow investments to be made and thus define a roadmap to massify its production.