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Research article2022Peer reviewedOpen access

Modelling synthetic methane production for decarbonising public transport buses: A techno-economic assessment of an integrated power-to-gas concept for urban biogas plants

Janke, Leandro; Ruoss, Fabian; Hahn, Alena; Weinrich, Sören; Nordberg, Åke


The integration of power-to-gas (PtG) technology into existing urban anaerobic digestion (AD) plants could be an interesting concept to recycle biogenic CO2 and increase CH4 production as renewable fuel to further decarbonize public transport buses (PTB). However, such implementation is challenging for several reasons, including power restrictions during peak load, physical and temporal availability of CO2 from AD plants, and the need for expensive intermediate gas storages to avoid mismatch between the constrained synthetic CH4 production and the variable fuel demand. To investigate whether synthetic CH4 could be a feasible alternative for buses currently powered by fossil fuels, a dynamic model was built for discrete-event simulations of PtG technology integrated into an urban AD plant designed to supply biomethane as fuel for bus fleets. Different scenarios were assessed, including variations in power availability to run a proton exchange membrane electrolyser as well as variations in the production scale of synthetic CH4 based on ex-situ biological methanation. The results show that a constrained power utilization (maximum of 12 h per day) increased the production cost of synthetic CH4 by 20%. In contrast, an increase in PtG production capacity from 0.75 MWth to 2.25 MWth decreased costs by 16%. From the PTB operators’ perspective, the total cost of ownership (TCO) increased in all analysed scenarios when replacing diesel buses by gas buses powered by synthetic CH4. However, when using synthetic CH4 as drop-in fuel to replace natural gas in existing gas bus fleets, the TCO could be reduced up to 4.4% depending on the PtG plant configuration and the assumed fossil fuel price. Furthermore, our results show that a carbon tax on fossil fuels has only a limited effect on promoting synthetic CH4 as alternative fuel for PTB, and additional incentives should be put in place to prioritize a fuel switch, especially for existing gas bus fleets.


Water electrolysis; Electrofuels; Carbon abatement cost; Carbon capture and utilization

Published in

Energy Conversion and Management
2022, Volume: 259, article number: 115574

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    • Sustainable Development Goals

      SDG7 Affordable and clean energy
      SDG9 Industry, innovation and infrastructure
      SDG11 Sustainable cities and communities

      UKÄ Subject classification

      Energy Systems

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