Friday, January 18, 2019 | ePaper

Biogas in Germany: Maintaining momentum

  • Print
Benjamin Budde and David Newman :
In Germany, the biogas market has a special history. It began with the building of around 100 farm waste and food waste plants in the early 1990s, with this number increasing steadily over the next 15 years. 2008, however, was when the biogas boom really started: the number of plants nearly doubled within two years, with around 3,000 built on the back of strong incentives from government.
The 2000 Renewable Energy Sources Act provided fixed revenues for plant owners, and revisions of the Act in 2004 and 2009 offered further profitable opportunities. Biogas was therefore given the opportunity to demonstrate its benefits as a producer of constant, reliable, on-demand energy.
There are currently around 9,500 biogas plants in Germany (150 more than in 2017). However, incentives for biogas production are now falling, with the German government increasingly focusing on unsubsidised, market-driven electricity production.
Despite this, innovative products to increase plant flexibility and improve aspects such as fermentation and separation still constitute a huge market. The German biogas market is expected to remain stable in the medium term, and the export market for biogas is expected to grow as energy-recovery rates steadily improve.
Plant owners are reporting that they want and need to invest in new technology, while overseas demand for German biogas technology remains huge. Other countries whose governments support renewable energy production are enlarging the sales areas for German companies providing biogas products and services: Stallkamp generates as much as 35% of total sales from overseas, demonstrating the strength of the biogas export market.
Following the first tranche of funding for biogas in Germany, production of flexible power will be the most sustainable market moving forward, with biomethane production and waste recycling following closely behind. There is also strong growth potential for separation and processing technology for fermentation residues and manure.
Renewable methane - whether produced from waste, manure or synthetic sources - could displace at most 7% of natural gas in Europe at the current demand rate, according to a new study by the International Council on Clean Transport (ICCT).
Outside of Germany, recycling waste is the top priority for biogas markets. Whether a biogas plant produces electricity or gas depends on the particular country's energy infrastructure and geographic location.
The European Union's (EU's) proposed Fertilisers Regulation, designed to significantly ease the access of organic and waste-based fertilisers to the Single Market, should help to create a profitable market for digestate in Europe. This will require the biogas industry to invest in producing high-quality materials that have the approval of the farming community, as digestate currently has a low value and little market demand.
The EU Circular Economy Package, meanwhile, will oblige member states to introduce separate biowaste collections or recycle at source by the end of 2023, opening up huge business opportunities for food waste plant operators and the biogas supply chain in Europe in particular.
This will require the biogas industry to ensure clean, uncontaminated collection systems for food waste, as too much food waste is currently heavily contaminated by other waste streams such as plastics, which are a headache for biogas operators.
At the other end of the chain, biomethane upgrading is developing rapidly. Renewable gas for both heat and transport is the current growth sector in many countries: there are now close to 600 biomethane-upgrading facilities worldwide, of which over 500 are in Europe.
There's also increasing interest from countries such as the Netherlands and companies such as Montello in Italy and Afrox in South Africa in utilising carbon dioxide, which constitutes 40% of the biogas generated by the biomethane-upgrading process, for industrial use.
And of course, there is increasing pressure on the German and all other governments to urgently ramp up their emissions reductions following the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's recent report showing that governments have just 12 years to take action to keep global warming to less than 1.5°C by 2100.
With MEPs having backed a net zero emissions target for 2050, member states such as Germany will need to further develop their biogas markets to continue to reduce emissions from waste, energy, and transport.

(Benjamin Budde is the head of sales department at Stallkamp. David Newman is the president of the World Biogas Association).

More News For this Category

Digitalise the traffic system to meet demand of megalopolis Dhaka

THE traffic signals at important and busiest intersections in the capital have now become only fossilised symbols of one of many ineffective traffic management efforts introduced by successive authorities.The existing

Corrupt practice should be stopped in Chattogram Port

THE fraud syndicates in connivance with some dishonest clearing and forwarding (C&F) agents in the last two years released 4,000 consignments from Chattogram Port using forged documents and other illegal

Potentials of e-businesses

Taslim Ahammad :In the present day the new technologies, in particular access to the internet, tend to modify communication between the different players in the professional world, notably: relationships between

With 'No deal' ruled out, Brexit can be averted

Sir Graham Watson :At around one o'clock in the morning on 24 June 2016, soon after the polls had closed, a leading figure in the UK's Remain campaign opened a

The vulnerable coastal communities

Nigel Brett :According to UN statistics, approximately 40 per cent of the world's population lives within 100 kilometers of the coast, and overall the world's coastal population is increasing faster

Readers’ Forum

Obesity alarmingly increases Obesity is rising in Bangladesh, as indicated by several regional and international reports. The problem lies with the predominantly carbohydrate-rich diet and lack of socio-cultural awareness in

May's defeat and fate of Brexit deal

BRITISH Prime Minister Theresa May's Brexit deal has been defeated in the Parliament. It's the worst parliamentary defeat for a British government since the 1920s. The MPs have voted down

Ensure ideal working atmosphere for women

THE bike of Shahanaj Akhter, who became a social media sensation recently for her struggle to maintain her family by offering ridesharing services, was recovered from Raghunathpur area in Narayanganj

Nature and metallic pollution in Bangladesh

Shishir Reza :More than 170 million people are living in Bangladesh which is one of the most densely populated countries in the world. Agriculture plays a fundamental role in the

IMF efforts to prevent money laundering

Rhoda Weeks-Brown :Al Capone had a problem: he needed a way to disguise the enormous amounts of cash generated by his criminal empire as legitimate income. His solution was to