Biomethane: A Sustainable Solution for Transportation

Exploring the Role of Biomethane in Reducing Fossil Fuel Dependency


Think of when you step onto a city bus and notice that small sign: “Powered by Clean Energy.” You sit back, feeling a surge of satisfaction, knowing that you are part of a progressive shift towards reducing the urban carbon footprint. One way of powering these buses with green energy is biomethane, a clean and efficient fuel derived from organic waste. This renewable energy source offers numerous benefits. In this article, we’ll delve into how biomethane is making a tangible impact on public transportation and why each trip you take fortifies our economic and environmental resilience.

As mentioned in the previous post ‘Challenges on Energy Transition’, the EU has stepped up its efforts to produce energy from renewable sources, thus reducing its dependence on fossil fuel and  its reliance on imports from other countries. The EU’s ambitious goal of producing and injecting 35 billion cubic metres (bcm) of biomethane into the natural gas system by 2030 is a clear demonstration of this commitment, with transportation emerging as a key application for this biomethane as a substitute for traditional fossil fuels.

Despite these efforts, in 2021, the European Union (EU) experienced a 15.7% increase in the consumption of solid fossil fuels compared to 2020. Although their consumption did not fully return to 2019 levels [1], fossil fuels remain a significant component of the EU’s energy mix. In 2021, they constituted 70% of the gross available energy in the EU [2]. The combustion of these fuels releases pollutants such as sulfur dioxide (SO2), nitrogen oxides (NOX) and particulate matter, which are harmful to human health, cause respiratory diseases and contribute to smog [3]. Additionally, their combustion emits greenhouse gases such as CO2, CH4 and N2O, further contributing to climate change. This scenario underscores the urgent need for cleaner, sustainable alternatives.

We cannot discuss the use of biomethane as a transport fuel without first highlighting the need for substantial investment in public transportation. This sector is the most obvious area where we can apply the “energy efficiency first” principle, which prioritizes the efficient use of energy over the incorporation of new energy sources [4]. The transport sector shows a keen interest in biomethane to meet its biofuel quotas, and the European Union has a key technological strategy, Action 8 of the SET Plan [5], which specifically focuses on advancing the development and deployment of renewable energy technologies.

Benefits of using biomethane

The economy:

Biomethane can be used as a substitute for imported liquefied natural gas (LNG) because it has a similar energy value to natural gas. Additionally, using biomethane produced in Europe is cheaper than transporting natural gas from outside Europe, especially LNG shipped across oceans. In 2023, Europe imported over 150 million tons of LNG incurring a cost of over €55 billion [6]. According to EU targets for 2050, 30 to 40% of this LNG will be replaced with biomethane, [7] saving over a billion euros annually. SEMPRE-BIO is developing a process that will meet 1% of Europe’s gas demand by 2050, saving around 9.3 million euros in transportation costs each year.

The environment:

Biomethane is a powerful ally in the fight against climate change. By harnessing anaerobic digestion, methane emissions from manure and similar materials, which are up to 23 times more harmful than CO2 [8], are captured. Without this technology, methane would be released into the atmosphere during the decomposition of manure and waste such as sewage sludge, municipal waste, agro-industrial effluents or agricultural residues. Therefore, biomethane has a triple beneficial effect: it is a low-carbon gas, as it involves short-cycle CO2; it replaces fossil fuels, thus preventing the addition of fossil-origin CO2 to the atmosphere; and, as previously mentioned, it captures biogas that would otherwise be emitted into the atmosphere and uses it as fuel.

The community:

Renewable gases in the EU have the potential to create 2.4 million jobs by 2050, with 850,000 being direct jobs [9]. Currently, the biogas sector provides over 50,000 stable jobs in Europe, with many plants situated in rural areas, contributing to the economy of disadvantaged regions and creating high-skilled jobs. Biogas plants are also increasingly prevalent in urban areas, aiding municipalities in waste management while providing environmental and economic benefits. Substituting fossil fuels with cost-effective biomethane enhances access to affordable, clean, carbon-neutral energy for EU citizens. Its use in transportation reduces GHG emissions, improves public health, mitigates climate change, and ensures food security and economic sustainability.

Energy security:

Considering dwindling fossil fuel reserves and deepening energy dependence, biomethane offers a domestic, sustainable, and renewable gas source that can help alleviate the European Union’s energy security concerns. In 2021, the EU imported 84% [10] of its gas consumption, much of which came from politically unstable regions, posing risks to energy security.

Specific Benefits of Using Biomethane for Land Transport:

In countries like Spain and Portugal, which serve as major points of connection in Europe and account for approximately 30% of emissions from transportation, the decarbonization of heavy-duty transport is of particular importance. In this context, bio-LNG, in the form of biomethane, emerges as the most expedient option for achieving the decarbonization targets outlined in the European Commission’s Renewable Energy Directive [11].

Biomethane offers several technical advantages, as its compatibility with existing vehicle infrastructure designed for compressed natural gas (CNG) or liquefied natural gas, coupled with its mature anaerobic digestion technology, renders it a reliable and versatile choice. Moreover, the EU’s commitment to integrating natural gas networks among member states will facilitate the storage and distribution of biomethane, thus unlocking its commercial potential.

Given these advantages and more, the biomethane sector warrants increased attention and support, with its share in transportation expected to experience rapid growth in the years ahead.


Certain recent studies, such as “The potential role of biomethane for the decarbonization of transport: An analysis of 2030 scenarios in Italy – ScienceDirect” [12], have examined the specific characteristics of different regions. All these studies concur that biomethane should play a pivotal role in reducing GHG emissions, pollutants, and suspended particles, particularly in the realm of transportation. At SEMPRE-BIO, we understand that now is the time to achieve competitive prices and expand into transportation applications to make these studies a reality. That’s why one of our case studies, Case Study 1, involves using the produced biomethane to fuel two urban buses in Barcelona, with an eye toward a future where the entire public fleet can operate without cost to the environment.


[1] Energy statistics – an overview – Statistics Explained (

[2] Fossil fuel reliance in EU increased slightly in 2022 – Eurostat (

[3] Air pollution in the EU: facts and figures – Consilium (

[4] BIOMETHANE: Setting a target that is fit for foood and the climate (

[5] setplan_bioenergy_implementationplan.pdf (

[6] European LNG Tracker | IEEFA


[8] Biomethane-in-transport.pdf (

[9] Gas for Climate – Job creation by scaling up renewable gas in Europe | Knowledge for policy (

[10] El mapa de las importaciones de gas y petróleo de la Unión Europea – Mapas de El Orden Mundial – EOM

[11] Directive – EU – 2023/2413 – EN – Renewable Energy Directive – EUR-Lex (

[12] The potential role of biomethane for the decarbonization of transport: An analysis of 2030 scenarios in Italy – ScienceDirect

Author: Oria Pardo

Editorial: Lucía Salinas and Laia Mencia

Date: June, 2024

This project has received funding from the European Union’s HORIZON-CL5-2021-D3-03-16 program under grant agreement No 101084297. Views and opinions expressed are however those of the author(s) only and do not necessarily reflect those of the European Union or the European Commission. Neither the European Union nor the granting authority can be held responsible for them. 

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