ORLEN Group invests in green transport solutions

The ORLEN Group is building Poland’s first green biogas plant to make a real contribution to reducing CO2 emissions from heavy goods transport. The pilot plant being built in Głąbowo (Province of Olsztyn), will produce over 7 million cubic metres of biomethane annually, which will then be converted into fuel, bioLNG. This volume allows a truck to travel 22 million kilometres. Estimated to cost PLN 180m, the project is slated to become operational in the second half of 2024.

An advantage of the selected project site is the ample availability of agricultural substrates, which are an excellent source of biogas. Byproducts from local agricultural production, unsuitable for use in the food chain, will be used to produce biomethane. In addition, digestate, which is a by product of biogas production, can serve as a natural fertilizer or soil improver. The project will also create highly-specialised jobs for the local community.

- Modern energy sources are our future. Therefore, we are developing biomethane plants to provide access to stable green energy sources. This will help to strengthen Poland’s energy security and the competitiveness of our economy. The project in Głąbowo will also support the achievement of the National Indicative Target providing for a gradual expansion of the share of fuels from renewable sources in the liquid fuels mix - explained Daniel Obajtek, President of the Management Board of PKN ORLEN.

BioLNG made from organic matter is a promising renewable fuel for transport. The pilot plant will enable testing of solutions and technologies that meet the highest technical, environmental and organisational standards. The experience gained from the project will be used in similar projects that are already being launched.

The biogas produced at a biogas plant is treated to remove any impurities, mainly carbon dioxide and sulfur and nitrogen compounds. This yields biomethane, which can be liquefied and converted into motor fuel, bioLNG. The 7 million cubic metres of biomethane made annually at the Głąbowo plant will translate into about 5.5 thousand tonnes of bioLNG. The biogas produced at the biomethane plant will be treated and liquefied on site, by cooling it to temperatures below 162°C. The fuel will then be transported from the biomethane plant to customers via cryogenic tanker trucks.

The project is being implemented by ORLEN Południe, an ORLEN Group company. The company acquired an ongoing agricultural biogas project with a capacity of up to 1 MWe in 2021. ORLEN Południe resolved to move forward with the project and expand it into a state-of-the-art biomethane plant with a gross capacity of about 4.6 MWe.

The ORLEN Group is consistently growing its new biogas business line. ORLEN Południe has so far acquired three operational biogas plants, which it plans to convert into modern biomethane plants like the one in Głąbowo. The plants are located in Konopnica (Province of Łódź), Wojny-Wawrzyńce (Province of Białystok) and Buczek (Province of Bydgoszcz). Also, the merger with PGNiG has created new opportunities for growing the biogas business, which is vital in the context of decarbonisation efforts.

Around 50–100 biomethane plants are built or converted every year in Europe. The largest such facilities operate in Germany, Sweden, and Italy. Traditional agricultural biogas plants produce biogas with an around 55% methane content. After treatment in special modules, it is turned into biomethane with a methane concentration of approximately 98%, corresponding to the methane content of natural gas.