The breadth and coverage of analytical expertise in the IEA Technology Collaboration Programmes (TCPs) are unique assets that underpin IEA efforts to support innovation for energy security, economic growth and environmental protection. The 38 TCPs operating today involve about 6 000 experts from government, industry and research organisations in more than 50 countries1.

Bioenergy TCP


Moving ahead with biogas

The Bioenergy TCP aims to accelerate the production and use of sustainable and cost competitive biomass for energy. Activities under this TCP assist policy makers to gain perspective on progress in bioenergy and working with industry to develop standards. Recent analysis shed light on the significant potential of biomethane in transport applications, enabling an 80% reduction in GHG emissions compared with fossil fuel alternatives 

Bus fuelled by biomethane (Malmö, Sweden).*

Oil accounts for 76% of CO2 emissions in the transport sector worldwide**. Replacing oil with fuels from renewable sources could offer a sustainable alternative particularly when produced locally.

Renewable fuels may be obtained from biomass feedstocks derived from animals or plants, such as wood and agricultural crops, municipal and industrial organic waste. Biogas, a mixture of methane and carbon dioxide used as fuel and produced by bacterial degradation of organic matter or through gasification of biomass, can be converted in electricity, heat, or upgraded to biomethane for use in motor vehicles. Alternatively it may be injected into the natural gas supply network making it readily available to consumers, particularly in Europe.

The Bioenergy TCP carried out two studies of biogas fuels. The first study aimed to identify and understand the economic and environmental sustainability aspects of successful development and implementation of modern biogas projects. 

Participants in the study carried out a wide-ranging inventory and case studies of the full value chain of the production process of biogas in IEA member countries. The findings of the study were collected into a number of focused publications, including the Biogas Handbook (designed for governmental bodies and industry), as well as technical brochures (e.g. exploring the role of biogas in smart energy grids) and country reports.

The aim of the second study was to provide researchers, policy makers and industry leaders with an up-to-date overview of the status of biomethane production from biomass in IEA countries, the elaboration of supply strategies, challenges facing expansion of trade, and expected future perspectives for development of the biomethane sector. The findings show that replacing fossil fuels such as natural gas with biomethane may result in a significant reduction in GHG emissions from the transport sector. Depending on the plant design/operation, the specific fossil fuel displaced, and GHG calculation methodology, findings from the study suggest that it is possible to achieve up to 80% reductions in GHG emissions with biomethane compare to fossil fuel. 

Yet biomethane production is currently more costly than natural gas. Adopting international standards for biomethane composition and quality is necessary to ensure sustainable biomass production, as well as sound and transparent methodology to determine adequate requirements for biomethane to be transported and traded through the natural gas supply network. These and other results of this study have been synthesised into the Bioenergy TCP final report, Biomethane – Status and Factors Affecting Market Development and Trade.

* Photo courtesy of ODB Technologies
** IEA, Paris (2014) CO2 Emissions from Fuel Combustion (database)


  • Biomass combustion and co-firing
  • Biomass feedstocks for energy markets
  • Bio-refining
  • Climate change from biomass and bioenergy systems
  • Commercialising biofuels from biomass
  • Energy from biogas
  • Energy recovery from solid waste management
  • Pyrolysis of biomass
  • Sustainable international bioenergy trade
  • Thermal gasification of biomass


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Contracting Parties  20 3 1
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