The “COASTAL Biogas” project, an example of circular bioeconomy: the effects generated from the anae

When taking into consideration the South Baltic area, one of the most common problems that can be identified is without a doubt the eutrophication phenomenon along the coastline. As a result, the consequences connected to the above-mentioned phenomenon represent a serious threat to the aquatic ecosystem of that geographical area. For instance, inter alia, can be detected the following problems arising from this delicate issue: an increasing quantity of filomentous algae and phytoplankton blooms, as well as the death of numerous different benthic species.

In line with the Interreg South Baltic Programme 2014-2020, special attention should be paid to the “COASTAL Biogas” project (the exact title is “Cluster On Anaerobic digestion, environmental Services and NuTrients RemovAL), whose main objective consists in fostering the use of green technologies within the agro-industrial value chains, in order to drastically reduce both the presence of eutrophication and the percentage of nutrients discharges in the waters of the Baltic Sea; so that it will be possible to encourage the transition to a circular bioeconomy-based model. In particular, the partners involved in this project should be able to show how advantageous may be the anaerobic digestion, which in turn is the process based on the conversion of organic waste into biogas and in the absence of oxygen. It can be confirmed, as proved through the “Coastal Biogas” project itself: “the anaerobic digestion offers many opportunities of relevance for the Baltic Sea Region since it transfers low quality resources/wastes into a renewable high quality fuel that can be used for local electricity and heat supply, as transport fuel into the natural gas grid. In addition, the digestate can replace the fossil based artificial fertilizers”.

In the meantime, it has be noted that the project at issue latches on to what is clearly pointed out in the text of the 39th point of the European Parliament’s “Report on the European Union Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region and the role of macro-regions in the future cohesion policy” (published on 14 June 2010), which highlights: “the need for the EU and its Member States surrounding the Baltic Sea Region urgently to address the serious environmental problems affecting the Region, principal among which are eutrophication, the impact of hazardous substances deposited on the seabed and threats to aquatic biodiversity, with particular regard to endangered fish populations […]”.

On the other hand, this example of circular bioeconomy is mostly implemented in Denmark (i.e. Solrød or Samsø) but in the meantime it is also true that it is going to be progressively tested by different municipalities – or in general, eventually interested in experiencing the potential outcomes with respect to this project – of the other Member States of the South Baltic Sea Region, such as Neringa (Lithuania) or Władysławowo (Poland).

Nonetheless, in order to achieve the best possible goals, a closer cooperation between municipalities and high-profile stakeholders like research institutes (e.g. Gdansk University of Technology, Roskilde University or University of Rostock) must be stimulated and supported, also in compliance with the article 24(2) of the Helsinki Convention on the Protection of the Marine Environment of the Baltic Sea Areas (entered into force on 17 January 2000) : “the Contracting Parties undertake directly, or when appropriate, through competent regional or other international organizations, to promote studies and to undertake, support or contribute to programmes aimed at developing methods assessing the nature and extent of pollution, pathways, exposures, risks and remedies in the Baltic Sea Area. In particular, the Contracting Parties undertake to develop alternative methods of treatment, disposal and elimination of such matter and substances that are likely to cause pollution of the marine environment of the Baltic Sea Area”.

Will it be an efficient renewable energy source?

Danilo Distefano, Interreg Reporter at the INTERREG South Baltic Joint Secretariat

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