The new Portuguese Biomethane Action Plan 2024-2040 ("BAP"), published 15 March, establishes a strategy to develop the biomethane market as a sustainable way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and combat external dependence on natural gas, with the aim of replacing natural gas with biomethane by up to 18.6% by 2040.

The PAB contemplates two phases with different time horizons and a transversal complementary axis to the two phases:

  • A first phase (2024-2026) aims: to develop the biomethane market in Portugal by creating a favourable regulatory framework for the implementation of new projects; encouraging the conversion of existing biogas plants to produce biomethane; allowing the collection of bio-waste by municipalities as set in the Strategic Plan for Municipal Waste 2030; removing of barriers to injection the into the public gas network ("RPG") and to the use in the transport and industry;   

  • A second phase (2026-2040) to ensure the consolidation of the biomethane market and increase the level of production, encourage management entities in the wastewater sector to use and maximize the anaerobic digestion of sludge, and the use of livestock and agro-industrial effluents (manure and slurry) for the production of biomethane, diversify the technological base of production through the use of alternative technologies, speeding up the licensing of gasification and power-to methane units, reinforcing R&D&I funding; and encourage the creation of biomethane communities or virtual pipelines to facilitate the production and injection of biomethane into the gas network.

  • A complementary axis (2024-2040) for the social and environmental sustainability of the growth of the biomethane market and the active participation of society in the development of the sector:  to promote the use of sustainable vehicles and methods for the collection and transport of waste and the incorporation of digestates into agricultural fields; and implement the European strategy to reduce methane emissions into the atmosphere, enabling the agro-industrial and waste sectors to comply with it.

The PAB, as so many sectorial plans approved in recent times, is of a programmatic nature and it does not establish effective implantation measures to achieve any of its goals.  Whether it will be of use for the incoming Portuguese Government to do so is yet to be seen.