RES-T methane markets in Finland 1941-2014

RES-T methane markets in Finland 1941-2014

By Ari Lampinen, CBG100 Suomi, September 2015


Market study on the utilization of renewable methane in transportation (RES-T) in Finland was published by the University of Eastern Finland in September 2015 (Lampinen 2015). It includes new statistical data for the year 2014 and historical data since 1941, when this technology was taken into use in Finland. As the publication is written in Finnish, a summary is presented here by its author in English. This presentation also includes introductory and additional content for the international audience, i.e. part of it is not found in the original study.



CBG: Compressed BioGas (may originate from biogas or other RES)

CBG100: 100 % Compressed Biogas

CMG: Compressed Methane Gas (may be renewable or fossil)

LBG: Liquefied BioGas

LMG: Liquefied Methane Gas (may be renewable or fossil)

MGV: Methane Gas Vehicle

RES-T: Renewable Energy Sources in Transportation applications



Historical review

Renewable methane has been utilized in transportation applications in Finland since 1941 (Lampinen 2013). There was a gap during the years 1947-2001, but since 2002 usage has continued at a growing rate (Figure 1). During the past decade consumption has increased by 900-fold.

Figure 1. Consumption of RES-T methane in Finland 1941-2014. This graph is from page 14 of the original study (Lampinen 2015). "Liikenteen loppuenergia" means end-use energy consumption in transportation.


Some aspects of RES-T methane utilization have remained unchanged during the history (1941-2014):

  • Only reactor biogas has been utilized, i.e. other sources of renewable methane have not yet been taken into traffic use
  • Almost every year all have been produced from biowastes (and almost all in the exceptional years, when small amounts of energy crops have also been used)
  • It has been used only in compressed form, i.e. CBG (Compressed BioGas)
  • It has been used only in pure form, as 100 % renewable fuel (CBG100 = 100 % Compressed BioGas), i.e. blends with fossil methane have never been available in the Finnish market although 100 % fossil methane has co-existed in the Finnish market (public filling stations) since 2005
  • It has been utilized only in road and offroad vehicles, i.e. never in rail, water or air vehicles
  • All public and private (except home filling units) CBG stations have been fast filling stations


There has been significant changes in some aspects of RES-T methane utilization:

  • In 1941-1946 only purified biogas was used, but since 2002 only upgraded biogas has been used (except for small-scale demonstrations on purified biogas)
  • In 1941-1942 only 150 bar CBG was used, in 1943-1946 both 150 bar and 200 bar CBG, and since 2002 only 200 bar CBG
  • In 1941-2003 only private filling stations were available, but since 2004 public filling stations have covered most of CBG demand
  • Until 2014 most of public filling stations were not open (i.e. required operator specific contracts and fuel cards), but in 2014 the whole Finnish public CBG100 station network became open access (i.e. refueling can be paid by cash, bank cards or credit cards)
  • In 1941-2010 there was only one CBG100 filling station operator at any time nationally, but since 2011 the amount has grown to eight
  • In 1941-2010 there were at most two CBG100 filling stations available at any time nationally, but since 2011 the amount has grown to 24 public stations, 2 large private stations and tens of home and mobile filling stations
  • In 1941-1946 CBG100 was available only in Helsinki area and between 2002-2010 only in Jyväskylä area, but since 2011 the coverage has extended to most Finnish provinces and a third of the population
  • In 1941-2008 only bifuel CBG vehicles were used, but since 2009 technological diversity has extended to dualfuel, monofuel and trifuel CBG vehicles
  • In 1941-2006 only fast CBG filling stations were used, but since 2007 also slow CBG filling stations (but only home filling units)
  • In 1941-2010 only local biogas pipelines were used for transporting biogas, but since 2011 also national gas grid and road


Most important years of RES-T methane developments in Finland are:

  • 1941: Start of biogas consumption in transport as the 3rd country in the world after Germany and Sweden: First CBG100 filling station (2nd was opened in 1943), 1st CBG vehicles (cars, vans, trucks and special vehicles), 1st CBG vehicle production (by conversion), utilization of municipal sewage for traffic biogas production
  • 2002: Restart of biogas consumption in transport (after it ended in 1946): First biogas upgrading plant, 1st biogas upgrading plant manufacturer, 1st factory manufactured (imported) biogas car, 1st company to import, sell and service biogas cars, utilization of dung and other agricultural wastes, and solid industrial biowaste for traffic biogas production began
  • 2004: Removal (forced by the EU) of very large tax barriers preventing utilization of renewable energy in transport in Finland since 1965: First public CBG100 station (it was also the first public methane filling station ever opened in Finland)
  • 2011: Large expansion of the public CBG100 filling station network: Amount of public CBG100 filling stations grew from 1 to 14 and made CBG100 available for about 20 % of the Finnish population; also factory manufacturing of CBG vehicles (tractors) and their engines and conversion of ships for methane use began in 2011; utilization of solid municipal biowaste for traffic biogas production began; 1st municipal biogas upgrading plant,1st mobile CBG filling station
  • 2014: Record year in many aspects, including consumption (described in chapter "Developments in 2014" below)


There are also some other earlier years with pioneering significance, including;

  • 1943: 200 bar tanks were taken into use in CBG vehicles, i.e. the pressure level, which is still used in modern CMG vehicles (150 bar had been used since 1941); 350 bars was used in storage tanks at filling stations, i.e. more than in most modern CMG filling stations
  • 1944-1945: More than 50 % of all biogas produced in Finland was consumed in transport (as CBG100)
  • 1986: Factory manufacturing of methane engines for vehicles (for LMG ships, for export only)
  • 1993: Factory manufacturing of methane vehicles (LMG ships, for export only)
  • 1996: First CMG buses (1st factory manufactured methane vehicles on Finnish roads)
  • 2006: Factory manufacturing of CMG vehicles (snowmobiles), 1st use of biogas (CBG) in snowmobiles (also 1st use of biogas in light vehicles)
  • 2007: First CBG home filling station (also the 1st slow filling station)
  • 2009: Factory manufacturing of CMG engines (for CBG tractors), 1st farm tractor use of biogas (at a farm producing upgraded biogas) using a prototype of the 1st Finnish factory manufactured CBG tractor (entered production in 2011), also 1st use of biogas in mobile working engines
  • 2012: First educational institute (agricultural school) with biogas plant, upgrading plant, private CBG100 filling station and use of own biogas as car and tractor fuel
  • 2013: First biogas (CBG) operated buses, production and transport of LBG (for export only), 1st methane powered ship (LMG), 1st LMG powered road vehicle


Retail price of CBG has remained very stable in public filling stations since 2004, when the first one was opened (Figure 2). In average there has been less than one price change nationally each year. The only major change occurred in 2011, when second company entered the market. The second retailer introduced a price range for CBG in the Finnish market and also influenced the price of the first retailer. The lowest CBG retail price has increased by 13 % between 2004 and 2014. Most of the other five companies entering the market later have maintained their prices between the first and second companies. There is only one exception: since 2013 the lowest price has been maintained by a retailer, which entered the market in 2013. Price of natural gas (CNG) is not shown in Figure 2. Until 2011 CNG was considerably more expensive than CBG. Since 2011 CNG price has been slightly below highest retail price of CBG, but clearly above the lowest CBG price. In the end of 2014 only one out of seven retailers maintained CBG price above the CNG retail price. CNG is sold by two companies in public filling stations at the same price. One of them also sells CBG. In the end of 2014 there was only one public CMG station, where CBG100 was not available: it was a CNG station.

Figure 2. Retail price development of biogas and gasoline in public filling stations in Finland since 2004, when the first public CBG filling station was opened. Prices are given in Euro cents for a gasoline equivalent litre.



Developments in 2014

In 2014 a new Finnish record was set on RES-T methane consumption: 17 GWh. Consumption increased by more than 50 % from previous year. All RES-T methane was reactor biogas based and all was produced from wastes eligible for double counting under the EU RES Directive (Figure 3).

Figure 3. Energetic distribution of resources used for production of CBG for vehicles in 2014. This graph is a translation of a graph on page 17 of the original study (Lampinen 2015).


Many new national records (NR) were set in the field in 2014. Table 1 shows selected key figures of the Finnish RES-T methane industry in 2014. Map of biogas filling stations and upgrading plants shows their location and details.


Table 1. Key figures of RES-T methane industry in Finland in 2014, including comparisons with previous year and records set during the whole history since 1941. It is an adapted translation of a table on page 13 of the original study (Lampinen 2015). "NR" means new national record, "=NR" means equal to existing national record.

  2014 Change from 2013 Record
RES-T methane consumption 17 GWh + 57 % NR
Biogas consumption in transportation 17 GWh + 57 % NR
Consumption by RES Directive rules 34 GWh + 57 % NR
Share of biowastes 100 % - =NR
Consumption of purified biogas in transportation 0 - 3 GWh
Consumption of upgraded biogas in transportation 17 GWh + 57 % NR
Share of biogas of RES-T methane consumption 100 % - always
Share of domestic biogas 100 % - always
Share of transportation of biogas utilization 3 % + 50 % 60 %
Share of CBG100 of traffic biogas consumption 100 % - always
Amount of public CBG100 stations 24 + 20 % NR
Share of CBG100 stations of public 100 % RES-T
 filling/charging stations
96 % - 4 % 100 %
Amount of large private CBG100 fast filling stations 2 - =NR
Number of CBG100 station operators 8 + 60 % NR
Number of traffic biogas production plants
(all are biogas upgrading plants)
9 + 80 % NR
Number of biogas upgrading plant operators 7 + 40 % NR
Upgrading capacity 2731 Nm3/h + 150 % NR
Share of transportation of upgraded biogas consumption 43 % + 30 % 100 %
RES share of road traffic methane consumption 40 % + 48 % 100 %
RES share of traffic methane consumption 30 % + 19 % 100 %
Share of public methane stations offering 100 % biogas 96 % + 5 % 100 %
MGV fleet 1900 +19 % NR


Number of production plant and filling station operators are listed here by ownership type:

  • Municipal: 7 (3 new in 2014)
  • Private: 6 (2 new in 2014)
  • State:1
  • Total:14


Statistics on manufacturing industry is listed here:

  • Number of vehicle producers: 10 (factory manufacturing 4, conversion 6); cars, vans, trucks, buses, special vehicles, light vehicles, offroad vehicles, mobile working engines and ships
  • Number of vehicle engine manufacturers: 2 (mobile working engines, road vehicles, ships and locomotives)
  • Number of upgrading plant manufacturers: 3
  • Number of liquefaction plant manufacturers: 1
  • Number of filling station manufacturers: 1


Many new companies entered the field in 2014, including:

  • Public CBG100 filling station operation: 3
  • Biogas upgrading: 2
  • Road transportation of CBG100: 1
  • Production of LBG plants: 1
  • Methane vehicle sales and services: > 100
  • Factory manufacturing of methane vehicles: 1


In 2014 the whole public CBG100 filling station network became open access. It means that operator specific contracts and fuel cards are no longer required by any operator (athough 3 operators have such option). Open access network is especially relevant for foreign visitors. It was one of the targets set by the Finnish Biogas Association in 2013 regarding qualitative development of CBG networks in Europe.  It is also included in the Directive on Clean Transport Infrastructure (2014/94/EU), which requires building EU wide open access public methane filling station network. Of the seven targets proposed by the Finnish Biogas Association three have now been completed in Finland:

1: Creation and maintenance of a CBG100 station map (achieved in 2013)

2: Marking CBG100 availability at all stations (achieved in 2002)

4: Open availability of CBG100 at all stations (achieved in 2014)

In addition, the following target is almost achieved:

7: All CMG stations become CBG100 stations: All public stations selling CBG already sell CBG100. Blends of CBG and CNG are not available. But there is still one station selling CNG only. However, progress has been remarkable since 2011, when 16 CNG-only stations were in operation. Considerable progress has in the last two years taken place in relation to public stations dedicated to selling CBG100 only (i.e. CNG not available in pure form or in blends). From 2002 until 2013 there was only one such station, but in the end of 2014 there were six.


For CBG100 consumers the market was highly attractive. During 2014 price of CBG100 remained almost unchanged (price was changed in only one out of 24 public stations, and there only once). CBG maintained its position as the lowest cost energy option in motorized transport. Table 2 lists lowest prices of each energy source available in public filling/charging stations in early December 2014. For CNG there are no price variances, because both companies selling it maintain same price (1.405 €/kg). For CBG there are price differences between the seven companies selling it in public stations (1.205-1.505 €/kg), but only one of them maintained higher price than CNG. In addition, there is one operator selling CBG at a large private fast filling station only. Their CBG price was also below CNG price.


Table 2. Lowest prices of energy sources sold for vehicles in public filling/charging stations in Finland in December 2014. It is an adapted translation of a table on page 16 of the original study (Lampinen 2015).

Rank Energy source Price (for gasoline liter equivalent)
1. CBG100 0.77 €
2. CNG 0.90 €
3. Electricity 1.09 €
4. Diesel 1.16 €
5. E85 1.36 €
6. Gasoline 1.38 €


Technical diversity of methane vehicles increased in 2014 as the first trifuel car was added to the Finnish MGV fleet. This type of trifuel cars increase fuel flexibility to ethanol (E85). They show in practise that consumers do not need to make a choice between biogas and ethanol, but can utilize both.


The Finnish public CBG100 filling station network became big enough for enabling personal renewable energy transition in transportation for over two million citizens, 40 % of population. In 2014 biogas was the only practical option for it, since it was the only form of 100 % renewable energy available in public filling stations and there was only one public charging station offering 100 % renewable electricity.

  • Lampinen Ari (2013) Development of biogas technology systems for transport. Finnish Quarterly for the History of Technology 31(3)5-37.
  • Lampinen Ari (2015) Liikennebiokaasun tuotanto ja käyttö vuonna 2014. In: Huttunen MJ & Kuittinen V (eds.): Suomen biokaasulaitosrekisteri n:o 18 – Tiedot vuodelta 2014. Publications of the University of Eastern Finland, Reports and Studies in Forestry and Natural Sciences No 21, School of Forest Sciences, Faculty of Science and Forestry, University of Eastern Finland, Joensuu, 12-18.