What is Biogas?
Biogas is created by converting biological waste into methane gas. Anaerobic digesters break down organic material from agricultural and wastewater treatment facilities, while wells and pipes collect biogas produced naturally in landfills. Anaerobic digesters are air and watertight, which improves air quality and prevents pollutants from contaminating waterways. Once biogas is collected and upgraded, it can be used in various settings to generate heat and electricity, similar to natural gas. Sometimes called renewable natural gas (RNG), biogas can be used in fuel cells and in place of compressed or liquid natural gas for transportation.
Benefits of Biogas
Capturing and burning biogas has significant benefits:
- Increases farm revenues
- Creates rural employment opportunities
- Reduces offensive manure odors
- Improves water quality
- Provides a consistent source of renewable energy
- Provides a locally-sourced natural gas equivalent without fracking
- Creates digestate, a high-quality fertilizer and the by-product of anaerobic digestion
- Reduces emissions of methane, a greenhouse gas twenty-five times more potent than carbon dioxide
Rising Demand Across the Globe
The global biogas market is poised for significant growth. Analysts expect the market to reach over $33 billion by 2022, nearly twice the size of the 2011 market. Environmental concerns, increased demand for distributed generation, infrastructure build-out for natural gas, and expansion of the compressed natural gas (CNG) vehicle market will all contribute to the biogas industry’s future growth.
Upgraded biogas, or renewable natural gas (RNG), can be used exactly like natural gas, opening up a broad range of end-uses and markets. RNG can run through a standard natural gas pipeline, generate electricity, heat homes and businesses, and be used for transportation. Demand for natural gas is expected to rise through 2020, at an average rate of 2 percent each year. Much of this future demand could be captured by an expanded biogas industry.
Career Opportunities in the Biogas Industry
Jobs in the biogas industry encompass a wide range of expertise and professions, including:
- Sales representative (technical and scientific)
- Biogas consultant
- Engineer (mechanical, electrical, chemical, and software)
- Manufacturing/engineering technician
- Installation project manager and technician
- Biogas technician/operator
- Digester system repair engineer (mechanical, electrical, and chemical)
- Electrical power line installer