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From waste to biomethane, a circular revolution

It starts with waste from household kitchens and after a long and complex production process it returns to the local community as biomethane fed into the network, to power private vehicles and public transport or for domestic use, ensuring benefits for the quality of the air and of the environment.

This is the virtuous circle that Hera Group pursues, which now also includes the biofuel par excellence, consolidating its leading position in the path towards a circular economy.

    Infografica Biometano

    Construction work on the plant began in April 2017 and in December 2019 the biomethane was fed into the gas network. Hera has been producing biogas for some time to generate renewable electricity using biodigesters and landfills. But thanks to the plant inaugurated in S. Agata Bolognese (Bologna), this biogas is refined to become, precisely, biomethane, a 100% renewable fuel.


  • Organic waste undergoes an anaerobic biodigestion process in the new plant built by Hera, the first multi-utility in Italy to construct one. In essence, the plant shreds screened waste and processes it for about 21 days in four horizontal, hermetically sealed digesters, in which micro-organisms anaerobically biodigest it to produce the biogas that, at a later stage, is refined (up-graded) by running through a counter-current of pressurised water. At this stage, the carbon dioxide is separated from the methane to obtain biomethane, a gas that is over 95% methane and that is an entirely renewable source.

    From waste to biomethane, a circular revolution

    At the end of the anaerobic biodigestion process, wood-cellulosic material is added to the resulting solid organic matter to obtain a structured mass that is sent to the aerobic composting phase, to produce quality compost, which can be used as a soil improver in agriculture or to create a soil mix to be used for planting and gardening.

    The investment of over 30 million euro has made it possible to use the best anaerobic digestion and up-grading technologies to produce biomethane, alongside the recovery of material so as to produce quality compost that can be used in agriculture.

    At full capacity, on a yearly basis, 100,000 tonnes of organic waste from separate waste collection plus 35,000 tonnes of green waste and pruning material can be used to obtain 20,000 tonnes of compost and 7.8 million cubic metres of biomethane, avoiding the use of fossil fuel equal to over 6,000 tonnes of oil equivalent (toe) per year, and thus the release of 14,000 tonnes of CO2.

    It is, therefore, an initiative that if replicated, can significantly contribute to Italy's energy strategy and to achieve the European 20-20-20 targets.

    Time lapse video of Biomethane plant construction in S. Agata Bolognese

    Biomethane for the circulation of vehicles in Bologna

    Contributing to the sustainable development of cities by travelling with biomethane powered vehicles is possible. Thanks to a project of Hera Group together with TPER (local public transport service operator) and the taxi cooperative CO.TA.BO., it is already a reality in Bologna.

    Some buses and about twenty taxis "spread" the initiative in the city, covered with a communication campaign that recalls how "circular economy" and "sustainable mobility" are not abstract concepts, but concrete behaviors that citizens, institutions and companies can promote together, successfully.

    Hera Group itself uses biomethane for its own journeys. Many company cars circulating in Bologna are powered by biomethane, and these too promote sustainable mobility thanks to a new graphic design that enhances biofuel.

    Biomethane is accessible to everyone, including citizens, and not only in Bologna. It is finally possible to supply your vehicle with biomethane, actively improving the environment. There are four service stations in partnership with Hera Group, which are easily recognisable thanks to the graphic customisation used at the distribution points.

    You can find the biomethane in:
    Bologna, Via Stalingrado 71
    Castenaso (BO), in via del Frullo
    Imola (BO), via Lasie 9D
    Spilamberto (MO), via S. Vito 329

    April 2019: launch of the biomethane campaign on buses and taxis in Bologna


    Artistic photography Silvia Camporesi

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