Josef Pellmeyer, President of the German Biogas Association
Photo: FVB

Biogas Has the Power to Make it Worldwide

Foreword by Josef Pellmeyer, President of the German Biogas Association

The demand for biogas as a renewable source of energy is growing - continually, worldwide. I can testify to this from my own experience: ever more interested visitors from across the globe are coming to view my biogas plant to find out how it works. In 2012 alone we received groups from South Korea, Ethiopia, China, Japan, Brazil and Russia to name but a few.

These foreign guests are primarily interested in generating power using the residual products of food and animal feed production as well as agricultural waste. This is particularly the case in countries where power from renewable sources is poorly remunerated and substrates need to cost little or nothing. In addition to energy generation, waste disposal requirements are another important motivating factor. Biodegradable waste is often not sorted from general waste, and so the mountains of rubbish grow and emit more of the greenhouse gas methane. Segregating biogenic residue from household waste and then fermenting it in anaerobic digesters therefore represents a promising solution. What is more, the fermentation products created at the end of the process are then available for use as high-quality fertilisers.

Biogas use in Germany also grew out of exploiting waste. At first, cultivating energy crops to ferment in biogas plants was not economically viable. Only once the renewable raw materials bonus (‘NawaRo-Bonus’) was introduced in the second Renewable Energy Sources Act (EEG 2004), which granted additional remuneration for the use of energy crops, was it possible to markedly increase the array of substrates employed. Today, many institutes and universities are working hard to research new, higher-yield energy crops for use in biogas plants.

The introduction of the EEG will see Germany go down in history. To date, this legislation has been copied in over 60 states all over the world and forms a cornerstone of the path towards a global energy supply from renewable sources. For many countries, Germany is a model for renewable energy use, and they are often eager to draw on the experience and cutting-edge knowledge of German companies.

Biogas technology 'Made in Germany' is in high demand worldwide and the country remains the world market leader in this innovative field. Since altered conditions caused the domestic market to decline sharply in 2012, German businesses have this year focused more strongly on exporting. Many companies have already established subsidiaries abroad and we read news announcing the conclusion of agreements within Europe, and sometimes even beyond European borders, on a daily basis.

German firms are well-equipped for the international market and are now gathering experience with projects in other countries where the conditions and requirements are often quite different to those in Germany. Their longstanding expertise frequently makes them the first port of call when it comes to constructing biogas plants. In an ever-growing market, they are reinforcing their dominant position and leading edge.

This brochure provides an extensive showcase for German biogas technology. Full-service providers that take responsibility for every aspect from planning to the final installation of entire plants are presented alongside firms specialising in components and substrates. Planners and consultants are also featured who assist operators with anything from initial ideas to plant operation.

As well as an overview of the technology, ‘Biogas - an all-rounder’ also provides a short introduction to the basic operating principles of biogas plants, the advantages that using biogas holds for agriculture, the climate and wider regions, the cyclical principle of biogas production and the outlook for the future.

It may not be possible for biogas to save the world – but it can make a valuable contribution to the cause. In this spirit I wish you great pleasure while reading this edition and every success with your own biogas projects!

Yours, Josef Pellmeyer