Biogas and its regulatory framework in Spain

Biogas as a renewable energy source is one of the objectives set out in the Spanish National Integrated Energy and Climate Plan ("PNIEC 2021-2030") to achieve climate neutrality by 2050. The commitment to biogas in the PNIEC 2021-2030 is a boost to the development of the circular economy through the anaerobic digestion of organic waste (bio-waste from domestic, commercial and industrial sources, sludge from wastewater treatment plants, waste from agri-food industries, manure and herbaceous crop residues) and its transformation into renewable fuel. The use of these raw materials contributes to the reduction of greenhouse gases.

The procedure for the authorisation of biogas plants currently suffers from a certain regulatory dispersion to which is added the complexity of requiring authorisations from various bodies of the Spanish General State Administration, the Autonomous Communities and City Councils.

In 2018, Directive 2018/2001 on the promotion of the use of energy from renewable sources ("RED II") was approved and various proposals have been made to develop the regulations on renewable energies with a relevant weight for green hydrogen and biogas, such as RED III (which amends the RED II Directive) and the Proposal of Directive for a Gas and Hydrogen regarding the internal markets for natural gas and renewable gases and hydrogen. In addition, the delegated act that sets out the criteria and requirements that hydrogen for transport must meet in order to be considered renewable, although applicable to other sectors such as biogas, is currently undergoing public consultation.

Notwithstanding the above, the regulation of biogas in Spain is currently set out in Law 34/1998, of 7 October, on the hydrocarbons sector, article 54 of which establishes that the rules of this law relating to natural gas are applicable to biogas and gas obtained from biomass.

For its part, Royal Decree-Law 18/2022 of 18 October introduced a series of measures to promote renewable energies, among which the declaration of public utility of direct lines connecting renewable gas production plants to the natural gas transport and distribution network stands out for its relevance to the promotion of biogas projects.

Written by Hermenegildo AltozanoAlfonso BayonaPaul StoneMarta Vila-Coro

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