Green Gases | Biomethane and hydrogen in Poland


Over the next decades, the way Europe generates energy will change significantly. The goal of achieving climate neutrality means fossil fuels will be replaced by renewable energy sources within 30 years. Playing a key role will be biomethane and green hydrogen produced from RES—green gases—the development of which should already be spearheaded Poland. It is necessary to start planning the rational use of these gases in the economy because there probably will not be enough for everyone, and some sectors will be easier and cheaper to decarbonise through electrification. Poland is already working on setting the framework for their use in various sectors of the economy. The latest report by Forum Energii may help in preparing the strategy.

Why green gases?

Without “green gases” there will be no full decarbonisation. Biomethane and hydrogen will primarily replace natural gas, coal, and oil in those sectors of the economy where electrification is difficult to achieve. Green gases can therefore be used primarily in industry, district heating, and electricity production. Hydrogen will have a role to play in heavy transport and aviation. Very importantly, green gases will allow Poland to increase its energy security and become independent from gas and oil imports.

How much green gas?

Forum Energii’s analysis “Green Gases. Biomethane and hydrogen in Poland” shows that by 2050, the demand for biomethane in the Polish economy may amount to 91 TWh, and for hydrogen, 129 TWh, representing 30% of the total demand for final energy. The report shows the means and costs of producing these gases and compares the potential for their use in Poland. Due to a lack of space for the construction of renewable energy sources needed to produce green hydrogen and the limited resources to produce biomethane, the production potential also has a limit. This poses a significant challenge for the government to accurately identify opportunities for the use of biomethane and hydrogen in specific sectors of the economy. It will be important to strategically identify where these gases will be indispensable and to plan the requisite long-term support: both financial aid and in the form of an appropriate regulatory environment. This is because, among other things, the cost of producing green gases is higher than the cost of purchasing fossil fuels, and this difference will only decrease with wider use of hydrogen and biomethane.

Green gases for special tasks

Green gases should be especially promoted in sectors exposed to high CO2 prices and where their implementation is easiest. Due to the high energy intensity of green hydrogen production and the complexity of biomethane production, it will be important to follow the “energy efficiency first” principal. Additionally, the development of these technologies before they reach full maturity and economies of scale will take time and significant financial investment.

Green hydrogen equals more RES

The development of hydrogen technology in Poland is necessary to be part of the global technological trend and to take advantage of opportunities for new branches of the economy. Hydrogen should be “green”, i.e., produced from renewable sources. This will require a new approach to planning the development of RES in Poland.

It is strategically important for Poland to combine climate neutrality with building energy independence. From this perspective, green hydrogen, produced from renewable sources, has priority over other types of gases. Therefore, Poland should revise its plans to build renewable sources. The government must recognise this and direct the development of RES accordingly. For the time being, we don’t see this in strategic documents such as the Polish Energy Policy,” Dr Joanna Maćkowiak-Pandera, president of Forum Energii, said.

With green hydrogen technology development at the initial stage, this gas will start to play a significant role in the Polish economy only after 2030.

Biomethane and green hydrogen development must go hand in hand

In the shorter term, biomethane has greater potential for use in the Polish economy, as it does not require far-reaching infrastructural changes.

Biomethane can be injected into the existing gas network. This will be particularly important in the perspective of reducing greenhouse gas emissions in sectors that require urgent modernisation, such as district heating and electricity production. Therefore, when thinking about decarbonisation, we cannot forget about tapping the potential of biomethane, which also requires well planned support,” Tobiasz Adamczewski, the head of Renewables at Forum Energii and co-author of the analysis, said.  

Biomethane development plays another important role as part of the circular economy concept, from organic waste from agricultural production, wastewater treatment, and food processing, to the production of biogas.

The value chain

Poland is moving away from coal, so low-carbon alternatives are urgently needed. In the next 10-30 years, the development of biomethane and green hydrogen is a great opportunity for a modern transition to a decarbonised Polish economy.

In the analysis “Green Gasses. Biomethane and hydrogen in Poland”, Forum Energii points out that in order to achieve this change, the government should review strategic documents on the energy transition in Poland. Both the National Energy and Climate Plan 2021-2030 and the Energy Policy of Poland until 2040 or the Hydrogen Strategy should weigh the demand for green gases across the economy and assess the power demand, considering the potential need for green hydrogen production. It is equally important for the government to outline a development plan for zero-emission gases. The accompanying regulations must be designed to bridge the cost gap between biomethane and green hydrogen and their alternatives, such as oil or natural gas.

The sooner Poland starts developing the potential of green gases, the higher the chances to avoid growing CO2 prices in industry and energy production and to create value chains and participate in the global trend of the low-carbon transformation.

Key figures 

- In 2050, the demand for green gases in the Polish economy may reach about 220 TWh and may account for 30% of the final energy demand.

- The technical potential for biomethane production is 107 TWh with natural gas consumption in Poland in 2019 being 179 TWh. Its potential use by 2030 could reach 57 TWh and 91 TWh by 2050.

- The generation potential of biomethane in Poland is 24 TWh from dry biomass gasification and 83 TWh from anaerobic digestion.

- In 2030, Poland will be able to produce 1.8 TWh of green hydrogen from surplus renewable energy, assuming that the share of RES in the energy production mix will be 43%. In 2050, the production potential of this gas from surplus green energy may reach 36 TWh if Poland follows the path of climate neutrality. However, the demand for green hydrogen will be much higher, reaching 129 TWh, which will require, among other things, more dedicated RES capacity.

- The cost of producing green hydrogen from wind power could fall from 477 to 361 PLN/MWh by 2030, while the cost of producing biomethane from anaerobic digestion could fall from the current 303 to 270 PLN/MWh.

The analysis is only available in Polish.

Authors of the analysis: 
Tobiasz Adamczewski, Michał Jędra - Forum Energii
Publication date: 25 June 2021


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