To counter Russian energy, European farmers produce biogas

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Farmers in the lush grasslands southwest of Paris are joining Europe’s efforts to get rid of Russian gas.

They will soon turn on the tap at a new facility that will crush and ferment crops and agricultural waste to make “biogas.” It is one of the energy alternatives offered across the continent, in a bid to cut off funding for Russia’s war in Ukraine by refusing to pay billions for Russian fossil fuels.

Small rural gas plants that serve hundreds or thousands of nearby homes won’t be able to replace the massive flows of Russian gas that fuel European economies, factories, businesses and homes anytime soon.

And critics of using crops to make gas argue that farmers should focus on growing food, especially when prices are soaring amid the fallout from war in Ukraine, one of the breadbaskets wheat in the world.

The European Biogas Association says the European Union could rapidly increase the production of biomethane, which is pumped into natural gas networks. An investment of 83 billion euros ($87.5 billion) – which at current market prices is less than what the 27 EU countries pay Russia each year for piped natural gas – would increase biomethane production tenfold by 2030 and could replace about a fifth of what the bloc imported from Russia last year, the group says.

Yet biogas is part of the puzzle of reducing Europe’s energy dependence.

Farmers around the Parisian village of Sonchamp believe their new gas plant will help detach Europe from the Kremlin.

“It’s not consistent to go and buy gas from those who are waging war on our friends,” said Christophe Robin, one of the six investors in the plant, which grows wheat, rapeseed, sugar beets and chickens.

“If we want to consume green energy and avoid the flow and supply of Russian gas, we don’t really have a choice. We have to find alternative solutions,” he said.

Summary of news:

  • To counter Russian energy, European farmers produce biogas
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