Croatia

Technical standards for biomethane and natural gas

The Croatian Gas Act (OG 40/07) and successive amendments establishes rules and measures for performing energy-related activities in the natural gas sector, including liquefied natural gas (hereinafter: LNG), rights and obligations of the gas market participants, unbundling of activities of the system operators, the third party access to the natural gas system and the natural gas (hereinafter: gas) market opening.  The rules established by this Act and the regulations brought pursuant to this Act apply also to biogas, gas from biomass and other types of gas in so far as such gases can be technically and safely transmitted with gas through the gas system. . In the distribution system conditions, the quality requirements and possible integration points relevant to the integration and transport of biogenic gases must be determined. The distribution system operator charges the plant operator those expenses incurred through the initial establishment of the connection of the biogas plant to the distribution grid in the form of a grid access fee. These costs should be entirely born by the biogas suppliers.

Requirements for gas quality

The quality requirements for natural gas are specified int he Grid Code for Access to the Gas Pipeline Transportation System (Official Gazette 126/03), but there are no mention of biogas quality requirements. The grid operator determines the minimum quality requirements of biogas for safe operation. General conditions for the integration of biogas in the grid network are established but there are not specific technical rules or priority grid access for biogenic gases. Legislation does not poses restrictions for injection of biomethane in the grid system neither regarding the feedstock origin of biogas neither regarding blending of “off-spec” biogas (which is purified, but contains high CO2-share) with natural gas in the grid if the gas-mixture is fully compatible with natural gas requirement. Maximum content of the propane and higher hydrocarbons is 6% in order to adjust biomethane to become on-spec (i.e. fully compatible with natural gas). No different standards for grid injection and for vehicle fuel usage are envisaged.

The quality requirements for biogas are the same as the requirements for natural gas.

Grid access restrictions

In the distribution system conditions the quality requirements and possible integration points relevant to the integration and transport of biogenic gases must be determined. In line with the harmonisation of the national legislation with the Directive 2009/28/EC, it is expected that the technical standards for biomethane will also be clearly defined.  Till now no request has been submitted by any biogas producer to gas system operator for the initial establishment of the connection of the biogas plant to the distribution grid in the form of a grid access. Therefore it is not known the level of costs which will incurr the biogas suppliers to distribute upgraded biogas int he grid.

Barriers

As far as the barriers for biogas and biomethane in Croatia caused by the regulatory framework.

 In Croatia the benefits of biomethane injection into the gas grid are not taken into account and so far no financial support system has been implemented offering a framework which would make it for investors more predictable, reliable and give them granting the planning and investment security. This would support broader biomethane related market activities. So far the high costs of biomethane, especially of the raw gas, are a real barrier. Despite of some investment subsidies there is no long term investment security. 

*There can however occure some barriers related to authorisation of a biogas/biomethane plant, such as long duration of procedure, unexpected surplus costs, etc. as occurs sometimes for biogas plants but till today no practical experience exists in Croatia on biogas upgrading.

Because biogas still is of minor relevance compared to other, more competitive renewable energy sources, biogas and biomethane currently are not on the political agenda. In general the competition with other utilization pathways, high up-front costs, low investment security, insecurity of feedstock availability and prices, low natural gas demand in summer in the wide-spread low pressure grids, lack of financial and political support and of information are the main barriers for biogas.