CHARACTERISTICS OF THE BIOGAS INDUSTRY OF LATVIA
Keywords:biogas production, Biowaste management, Circular agriculture
Biomass and biowaste could be processed into biogas, which, in turn, could be used to generate electrical and thermal energy. Agriculture, especially livestock farming, has significant potential for bioenergy production, mainly due to its relatively low cost. In 2020, 52 biogas plants operated in Latvia, which sold the produced electrical energy under the mandatory procurement scheme (MP). The biogas plants consumed inputs from agriculture, landfills and water treatment facilities. The use of biogas for energy production should be encouraged, as the inputs – waste –, which the biogas is produced from, are used efficiently. By supporting waste processing and energy production in Latvia, the country’s independence from fossil energy sources could be increased, as well as the proportion of renewable energy sources in final energy consumption would increase by 50-70% by 2030 compared with 1990. Accordingly, the present research aims to analyse the performance of the biogas industry of Latvia. The research concluded that since 2017 when the largest output of electricity was reported in Latvia (7.35 TWh (Terawatt hours)), the output has continued decreasing every year, including the electricity produced from renewable sources and by biogas plants. In the period 2016-2020 in Latvia, the average proportion of electricity produced by biogas plants in the total electricity output was 5.36%. In 2021, 46 biogas plants sold electricity under the mandatory procurement scheme, which was 6 plants fewer than in 2020; therefore, this proportion decreased to 3.63%. The performance of biogas plants in the first half of 2021 was lower and significantly lagged behind that in 2020, which was a result of significant amendments made to the legal framework at the end of 2020 regarding the efficiency of cogeneration plants. Consequently, the biogas plants diversified their operations or stopped production, and it could be expected that in 2021 the amount of electricity sold under the mandatory procurement scheme would decrease by at least 20%.