Biogas is a climate-friendly way to produce energy. The production, however, involves a risk of eutrophicating nutrient discharges. The risk can be reduced by paying attention to digestate recycling and final disposal, and to the treatment of wastewaters from production. The Sustainable Biogas project, funded by the EU Interreg Central Baltic Programme, will work together with the biogas sector and various stakeholders to reduce nutrient discharges from the whole life span of the biogas production: from raw materials to production and to safe utilisation of nutrient-rich digestates.
The Sustainable Biogas project consortium will delve into a challenge that has so far received little attention: climate-friendly biogas production involves a risk of eutrophicating nutrient discharges. The risk can be reduced by paying attention to digestate recycling and final disposal, and to the treatment of wastewaters from production. With these measures, it is possible to minimise the volume of nutrients that enters the watercourses and the Baltic Sea.
The John Nurminen Foundation, biogas producers, and environmental authorities from Finland and Latvia will embark on cooperation to promote the sustainability of climate-friendly biogas from a water protection perspective. The Sustainable Biogas project, now being launched, will work together with the biogas sector and various stakeholders to create methods that improve the way nutrient flows are controlled.
Particular focus on Southwest Finland, Åland, and the Zemgale region
The project will reduce nutrient discharges from biogas production to watercourses by increasing awareness of the nutrients created in biogas production, and by creating new tools and procedures that improve nutrient flow management for the use of biogas plants and the authorities. Project results can be utilised e.g. in the planning phase and when environmental permits for biogas plants are awarded. Moreover, the project will promote the sustainable and safe utilisation of nutrient-rich digestates, created in biogas production, as recycled fertilizers.
Measures will be implemented in three areas: Southwest Finland, the Zemgale region in Latvia, and in Åland. In addition to the biogas production in the regions, all three areas have a nutrient surplus, due e.g. to intensive livestock production; at the same time, nutrient levels on cultivated fields are high, further increasing the risk of nutrient runoff to watercourses.
The goal is to improve nutrient management, and to reduce discharges from the 30 existing biogas plants, and from various plants that are still being planned. Moreover, the results will be utilised in the entire Baltic Sea area in order to reduce nutrient discharges from biogas production.
The project’s deliverables will include instructions for plants and the authorities on the treatment of digestate and reject waters, and three regional plans which will improve the nutrient balance in Southwest Finland, Zemgale, and Åland. The project will also use Latvian and Finnish expertise to build a quality system for recycled fertilizers in Latvia, and to further develop the quality system that already exists in Finland. The project will also draw up plans for further opportunities to use wastewater sludge and the digestates produced from it, both in Finland and in Latvia.
The John Nurminen Foundation will implement the Sustainable Biogas project in cooperation with the ELY Centre for Southwest Finland, the Finnish Biocycle and Biogas Association, Latvian State Environmental Services, and the Latvian Biogas Association. The project has received EU-funding of 1.06 million euros from the Interreg Central Baltic Programme.
The project will be implemented during the next two years, and its results will be available in the summer of 2022.
John Nurminen Foundation