Worldwide biogas production has grown steadily over the last few decades, and it has become one of the most popular types of renewable energy. However, as much as that is true the fact of the matter is that it has both advantages as well as disadvantages.
Advantages of Biogas
Biogas is unique and is very different from most other energy sources (both renewable and not). Its main advantages are:
Biogas is a naturally occurring gas generated by the breakdown of organic matter and is both renewable as well as clean. The gas is non-polluting and no combustion takes place during its production – so it does not cause greenhouse emissions. On top of that, the raw materials used to produce it (i.e. manure, food scraps, and crop residue) will always be available, which makes it sustainable too.
Reduces soil and water pollution
As opposed to waste going to landfills and subsequently causing soil and water pollution, it can be diverted to biogas production. The anaerobic digestion that is used to produce biogas will take care of pathogens and parasites which will help curb the spread of disease. All in all, it is good for not only the environment but sanitation and hygiene too.
Unlike many other types of renewable energy, the technology to produce biogas is relatively cheap. Small biogas production units can be used at home and the raw materials can be sourced locally. Even building larger biogas plants requires a very small capital investment.
Produces organic fertilizer
One of the byproducts of biogas production is enriched organic manure, which is a great fertilizer. In fact, it is a good replacement for chemical fertilizers that are potentially harmful to the environment.
Disadvantages of Biogas
Although biogas does have a lot going for it, there are some drawbacks that you should be aware of too. The most notable disadvantages of biogas are:
Issues with efficiency and scale
Over the years there have been very few technological advancements in biogas production, and it is still not very efficient. That makes it difficult to implement it on a large scale.
Biogas is known to contain impurities and contaminants that are difficult to purify. If it is compressed and used as a fuel it can be highly corrosive, which will increase maintenance costs.
May require heat
The optimum temperature for bacteria to carry out anaerobic digestion is about 37 degrees Celsius. In regions that have colder climates that can be an issue as heat will need to be supplied to produce biogas.
Not viable in all locations
While biogas is a great option in rural areas where its raw materials are in plentiful supply, the same cannot be said of dense metropolitan areas.
All in all, biogas is an excellent type of renewable energy with a lot of potentials – despite its drawbacks. In fact, it is easy enough to find a biogas company and learn more about the types of generation systems that are available.