U.S. Biogas Industry Continues to Experience Record Growth

Digesters used to generate biogas from agricultural waste

(Credit: American Biogas Council)

by | Feb 15, 2024

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The American Biogas Council has released new data showing that 2023 marked the third year of record growth for the United States biogas industry, which experienced nearly 100 new projects amounting to $1.8 billion in capital investments.

Biogas is commonly used as an alternative to natural gas and may reduce carbon emissions of electricity by 50% to 700% when compared to fossil fuels, according to the American Biogas Council (ABC). In 2023, 96 biogas projects in the U.S. became operational, and the country now has a total of 2,251 active biogas projects. The new additions reportedly generate enough energy to power the equivalent of 600,000 homes.

Biogas is developed through systems that capture methane from recycled organic waste in order to generate renewable energy. Therefore, biogas systems are able to both reduce harmful methane emissions and reduce the use of fossil fuels. This dual benefit may address multiple environmental concerns in the U.S., including methane emissions, food waste, and pollution caused by fossil-based fertilizers.

“This is an exciting time of growth for a renewable energy sector that is directly responsible for methane emission reductions,” said Patrick Serfass, executive director of ABC. “As the biogas industry expands, so, too, does our capacity to capture methane emissions that would otherwise be emitted from organic waste. We can simultaneously use that captured methane to displace other emissions from fossil fuels that are used for energy and making fertilizer. It’s a win-win that often results in negative carbon emissions.”

Landfill Biogas Leads Industry, RNG Sees Significant Expansion

ABC found that landfill biogas, created from capturing emissions from landfill waste, currently leads the industry in terms of investment and biogas output. Growth of landfill biogas projects represented 67% of added biogas projects in 2023, followed by agriculturally derived biogas (32%) and food waste-derived biogas.

While ABC found renewable electricity generation to be the most common energy derived from biogas, creation of renewable natural gas (RNG) experienced more growth in 2023. RNG projects made up 91% of new projects brought online last year, largely due to policies like the Renewable Fuel Standard and the California Low Carbon Fuel Standard.

Despite continued record growth of the biogas industry, ABC explains that only about 20% of possible projects in the U.S. have been built based on current amounts of available organic material that may be converted into fuel.

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