Agriculture and Food Minister Sandra Borch visited biogas plant in Rakkestad

On Friday 12 August, Agriculture and Food Minister Sandra Borch visited Slommerud farm in Rakkestad to learn more about biogas at farm level.

Biogas as an energy source, and farm plants for biogas were topics when the network Biogass Oslofjord invited the Minister of Agriculture and Food Sandra Borch on a visit to the farm biogas plant of the Kopperud family at Slommerud farm.

During the inspection, the minister received information about how biogas solves essential societal tasks, reduces the burden on the environment and climate, and creates new green jobs. Biogas is the school example of circular economy in practice, from soil to food to renewable energy and back to food.

"It has been a very good day, and it is very exciting to see the investments being made. There is no doubt that we have huge potential in Norway. I wish we were even further along the track when we see the situation in the world now. We need alternatives, then we must be able to use the resources we have in Norway to the greatest extent possible. Waste is often referred to as rubbish, but waste is a resource. We must talk about waste as a resource that we can circulate and reuse, then we will also have a much more sustainable society", says the minister.

 Biogas has for many years been an important investment for Viken County Council. The Østfold region has the well-known red biogasbuses, and there are several facilities and filling stations in the Oslofjord region. Member of the County Government for economic development, Mr Johan Edvard Grimstad in Viken county council represented Biogass Oslofjord during the visit. He speaks warmly about how biogas contributes to regional development. 

"Biogas is good social policy in that it creates new green jobs. An investigation by Biogass Oslofjord shows that biogas production, for better or for worse, requires a significant amount of work. This means that the 30 per cent livestock manure corresponds to up to 1,500 green jobs linked to the production, transport and use of gas and fertilizer. And then it is perhaps worth noting that most of these jobs belong to rural areas, and thus it can be argued that investing in biogas is good rural policy", says Grimstad and continues:

"We have tried to contribute to developing the industry for many years, but it is going relatively slowly. This is probably partly because development requires close collaboration across industries and broad interdisciplinary knowledge. This is probably why the Storting in Norway, in June, asked the government to take the initiative to establish industry agreements with agriculture and the fisheries and aquaculture industry with the aim of increasing the supply of raw material for biogas production. We look forward to this being followed up, and we are working in parallel to strengthen knowledge-based networks in Viken such as Biogass Oslofjord, Klimapartnere and Klima Viken."

Biogas can be used for heat, electricity, and can be upgraded to fuel – In simple terms: a local renewable energy production, with great potential. In the COBEN project (Delivering Community Benefits of Civic Energy) Viken County Council is committed to shift energy value chains from centralized utilities to community-owned enterprises and to promote the transition to renewable energy by delivering real benefits to the communities.The focus has been on cooperation with the agricultural sector, as local farmers have a great potential for prosumption (local production and consumption) of renewable energy.

 During the inspection, the minister and the other guests were able to see how some of this happens in practice where a biogas producer produces electricity and heat both for own use and for sale.

"We look forward to the fact that the new announced scheme for agriculture, Bionova, will make it easier for new facilities to establish themselves in the future and facilitate that we will eventually be able to achieve the goals we have set in the field of climate and sustainable social development", says the County Council for economic development, Johan Edvard Grimstad in Viken county coucil.

 The Minister agrees, "We must invest much more in biogas than we do now. And then it's about finding the market we need to use the biogas. We now see, with cost growth throughout Europe and the world, that new markets must be forced into existence which means that we will hopefully get a market that wants more biogas."

Following the inspection, the minister opened the agricultural fair Markens Grøde og Klimalåven 2022 (Climate barn) in Rakkestad.