Promotion of biogas production in Latvia
Keywords: biogas production, energy policy, support measures, political risks
AbstractPromotion of biogas production to generate energy is associated with several EU policy initiatives such as increasing the production of electricity and thermal energy, energy independence, and the reduction of GHG emissions. Besides, one of the topical problems is the increasing amount of organic waste and residue from agriculture, industry, and households, thereby making waste management, recycling, and waste reduction one of the government policy priorities. Therefore, energy production from biogas that forms in the fermentation process of various waste, including agricultural wastes, provides environmental, social, and economic gains, and it plays a significant role from both the bioeconomic and energy policy perspectives. To reach both the international and the national policy targets in renewable energy production, all EU member states use several support mechanisms. In Latvia four support mechanisms are used for production of electricity and heat from renewables – obligatory state purchase of electricity, guarantee of a set price, release from paying the electricity tax for the energy, produced from the renewable resources and public (EU structural fund) funding for investments, and one support mechanism for production of biofuel. In few recent years in Latvia, the support mechanisms described above have created a motivating support system for joining the biogas production sector, but due to the pressure of the manufacturing enterprises and households the government intends to change the support policy and the amount of the support for electricity production from biogas. It creates instability and increases political risks for biogas producers thus obstructing the development of the sector. The current article reviews the former and current support policy for biogas production in EU and Latvia and gives an insight to the significance of political risks in the production of biogas from agriculture biomass.