Anaerobic digestion in Germany is forecast to expand in 2021. There is good reason to be optimistic about the prospects of growth in the German anaerobic digestion industry due to the passing of the new 2021 Renewable Energy Sources Act (EEG) by the Bundestag which took place just before Christmas.
This promises to be a major step towards a substantial increase in biogas generation in Germany, benefiting not only the AD industry but also contributing to the nation's action against climate change.
We have re-published a recent Press Release below, by a leading German biogas plant contractor, EnviTec Biogas AG.
EnviTec Biogas AG covers the entire value chain for the production and upgrading of biogas, including the planning and turnkey construction of biogas plants and biogas upgrading plants as well as their commissioning. The company takes charge of biological and technical services on demand, and also offers integrated plant and operational management services.
Read on to find out more, and how Envitech see growth prospects are not limited to Germany alone but are also rising globally:
ENVITEC BIOGAS STARTS NEW YEAR WITH RENEWED OPTIMISM
EEG 2021 brings hoped-for turnaround for biogas industry
Lohne/Saerbeck, 14 January 2021 – The new year has started on a positive note, despite the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Olaf von Lehmden, CEO of EnviTec Biogas AG:
“The passing of the new 2021 Renewable Energy Sources Act (EEG) by the Bundestag just before Christmas marks a key step towards a bright future for biogas generation in Germany.”
The new EEG provides planning reliability, von Lehmden notes, which is a substantial improvement to the old EEG from 2017. As a result, the new law finally introduces the improvements urgently needed for renewable electricity generation from biomass. Von Lehmden:
“Raising the maximum bid value to 18.4 ct/kWh offers sound prospects for continued economic viability.
For sustainably developed sites with reasonable heat output, this at last marks the achievement of a satisfactory ruling from an economic perspective.”
As conventional power station capacities are drawn down, policymakers seem to be turning their attention to the baseload capabilities of biogas plants. Von Lehmden also sees the adjustment to tender volumes, the increase in the flexibilisation allowance and the removal of the flex bonus cap as positive developments.
“But the new EEG is not without its flaws,”
warns EnviTec CFO Jörg Fischer, who assumes lawmakers will – as already announced – correct these issues over the next few months. As an example, Fischer cites the law’s current system whereby existing plants who have already received the flex bonus will receive the flex allowance in the second subsidy period only on the output not previously subsidised by the flex bonus.
“Customers with a heat plan in place should therefore make the most of the flexibilisation option now,”
“further potential will result from the RED II Directive on CO2 compensation – to be transposed into German law around the end of June.
Since the RED II Directive is being transposed into national law throughout the EU, von Lehmden believes this will create momentum in EnviTec’s European markets. In terms of international biogas markets, EnviTec’s Management Board sees key opportunities for expansion in Denmark and France, as well as China, where there is every indication of the potential for further growth. While China, in particular, has reduced its targets for annual biogas production, the figures are still promising, with over 10 billion cubic metres by 2025 and 20 billion by 2030.
Other fast-moving markets include Italy, as well as southern and eastern European countries such as Greece and Estonia.
Returning to Germany, 1 November 2020 marks the date of entry into force of the German Building Energy Act (GEG), which will offer an interesting set of opportunities for the role of biomass energy.
“The new GEG is especially interesting for the heating sector,”
von Lehmden says.
He sees the area of hydrogen production as more problematic, however. Although biogas plus steam reforming offers one of the cheapest methods for producing green hydrogen from renewable sources of energy, the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU) has circulated a draft ordinance whereby biogas is excluded from quota offsets and therefore from the market itself. Quite apart from the discriminatory nature of this ruling, this also contradicts the EU Directive that explicitly includes biogas.
Globally, EnviTec Biogas sees the bio LNG sector as booming. Von Lehmden:
“In heavy goods traffic, in particular, LNG and renewable methane are really gaining ground.”
Von Lehmden also points to the US, parts of Europe and China, where LNG is already a standard fuel, with more than 50,000 trucks and 1,300 filling stations now in operation. According to a recent report from the German Energy Agency (DeNA),
“LNG is creating future-proof jobs in these countries as a strategic cornerstone for the environmentally friendly and competitive logistics of the future.”
“All things considered, we’re therefore cautiously optimistic about prospects for the next twelve months and are confident of being able to develop many new markets,”
says von Lehmden. Von Lehmden also notes the healthy, sustainable growth that can be seen in all areas of the company – and especially in the Group’s core business segment, plant construction:
“Building work is already underway on half of the order book for 2021.”
The following is our original article on anaerobic digestion in Germany which we published on 29 Oct 2019, when the outlook was nowhere near as positive, as it is now in February 2021.
We think that the following article is still an article worth reading because it does show how quickly things can change due to the rising urgency of action against climate change. Read on for the original German biogas industry outlook article which we published 2 years ago:
Original article starts:
Anaerobic Digestion in Germany is quiet, as far as selling at home goes. Very few new local German AD plants are in development currently (2019). The German Anaerobic Digestion Equipment industry is active but is mostly making biogas equipment for export. The internal market is flat and likely to remain so for some time.
German Plant Number Stagnation Not Typical Within EU
In contrast, the prospects for biogas in Europe overall look bright, with conservative estimates pointing to a tenfold increase in production by 2030. However, over the next 10 years the extent of biogas development will vary enormously between EU states.
The Nation was an Early AD Adopter
Germany was an early starter in anaerobic digestion and has over 10,000 biogas plants, the majority of which are still operating although subsidies have largely ceased from the German government.
In Germany, the biogas sector saw a boom in the first decade of this century. That took place when the government became one of the first to provide a subsidised feed-in tariff for renewable electricity.
The idea was to support Combined Heat and Power (CHP) generation as well and has been implemented on many AD plant schemes. District hot-water heating for blocks of flats and industrial heating had been successful in the eastern block countries, and the adoption of CHP is very green, due to reduced energy wastage.
Diesel from Food Crops Once Seen As a “Climate Change Saviour”
It was a time when the idea that making renewable diesel fuel from food crops was also popular.
The theory was that using food crops like maize, to make ethanol (through a chemical process), which could be added to the diesel in forecourt pumps, would make fossil-fuel diesel greener.
But, that public opinion was soon to change. Such a large number of anaerobic digestion plants were built in Germany, using maize as their primary feedstock, that concern arose that the demand might raise food prices generally.
Feed-In Tariff Scrapped by German Government in 2014
Nevertheless, the scheme did allow the German Biogas Industry to develop technological solutions successfully. Today (2019), biogas represents about 90% of the country’s renewable electricity generation.
Since 2014, when there was criticism of the costs and environmental impact of the subsidy, the German AD Industry has looked abroad for business. Most biogas plants internationally now contain at their heart German sourced heavy equipment. Similarly, Germany now supplies most of the monitoring equipment the biogas industry uses.
No Big Ambitions for Biogas in Germany
To quote Susanna Pflüger of the European Biogas Association:
“As soon as the feed-in tariff was removed in 2014, the commissioning of new biogas plants started slowing down. “So. Yes, we have still around 10,000 biogas plants in Germany but the number is not really increasing and Germany doesn’t have big ambitions for biogas or biomethane in the future”.
Other nations look on in envy of the dominance of German biogas technology in global commercial biogas plants. It is a prime example of how a subsidy which might be unpopular at the time, can reap enormous future benefits when it allows a leading nation to develop a mature technology ahead of competitor nations.
More on the German Anaerobic Digestion Scene from Around the Web
AD Industry Gives Back to the Communities Where they are Installed
Renewable energy installations, and bioenergy, in particular, are praised for giving a lot back to the communities where they are installed. Apart from jobs – there are 119,900 people employed in the bioenergy sector in Germany – they add to the districts' commercial tax income, often generate income from land leases, bring business to local companies, and save on expenses for imported fossil fuels. Kern says that Neuhardenberg, a village close to the Polish border with a population of 2,700 and sandy, low-yield soils, is seeing just such benefits from Odega's new plant.
Germany has Embarked on the Quest to Decarbonise its Economy
Germany's project to decarbonise its economy (the Energiewende or energy transition) while at the same time quitting nuclear power has so far focused mainly on the electricity sector. Renewables covered roughly a third of the country's power consumption in 2015. But while wind and solar PV fluctuate with the weather, posing logistical challenges for the grid, biomass could be controllable in much the same way as conventional power sources. As a rule, biomass is used to fuel small combined heat and power (CHP) plants, meaning it's also making a significant contribution to a shift to renewables in the heating sector – which has so far lagged behind power in the race to ditch fossil fuels. via www.cleanenergywire.org
Biogas Energy Potential
Currently less then one percent of the potential benefits from AD are being used.
Reasons for this include the obstacles such as the legislative framework and the lack of economic incentives for potential investors. Countries like Denmark, Germany, Austria and Sweden promote effective mechanisms to produce biogas from organic wastes by political measurements. via www.eubia.org
Utilization of Wet Organic Wastes from Agriculture and Industry
Anaerobic treatment processes are especially suited for the utilization of wet organic wastes from agriculture and industry as well as for the organic part of source-separated household wastes. Anaerobic degradation is a very cost-effective method for treating biogenic wastes because the formed biogas can be used for heat and electricity production and the digester residues can be recycled to agriculture as a secondary fertilizer. Anaerobic technology will also be used for the common treatment of wastes together with renewable energy crops in order to reduce the CO2-emissions according the Kyoto protocol. Various process types are applied in Germany which differ in material, reaction conditions and in the form of the used reactor systems.
The widespread introduction of anaerobic digestion in Germany has shown that biogenic organic wastes are a valuable source for energy and nutrients. Anaerobic waste treatment is done today in approx. biogas plants on small farm scale as well as on large industrial scale with the best beneficial and economic outcome. Due to some new environmental protection acts which promote the recycling of wastes and their utilization for renewable energy formation it can be expected that several hundreds new biogas plants will be built per year in Germany. In order to use the synergetic effects of a combined fermentation of wastes and energy crops new process types must be developed in order to optimize the substrate combinations and the process conditions for maximum biodegradation. via www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov
Importance of Anaerobic Digestion
Anaerobic digestion is the most important method for the treatment of food waste because of its techno-economic viability and environmental sustainability. The use of anaerobic digestion technology generates biogas and preserves the nutrients which are recycled back to the agricultural land in the form of slurry or solid fertilizer. The relevance of biogas technology lies in the fact that it makes the best possible utilization of food wastes as a renewable source of clean energy.
A biogas plant is a decentralized energy system, which can lead to self-sufficiency in heat and power needs, and at the same time reduces environmental pollution. Thus, the benefits of anaerobic digestion of food waste includes climate change mitigation, economic benefits and landfill diversion opportunities.
Anaerobic digestion has been successfully used in several European and Asian countries to stabilize food wastes, and to provide beneficial end-products. Sweden, Austria, Denmark, Germany and England have led the way in developing new advanced biogas technologies and setting up new projects for conversion of food waste into energy.
Anaerobic digestion of sewage sludge is wastewater treatment facilities is a common practice worldwide. Food waste can be co-digested with sewage sludge if there is excess capacity in the anaerobic digesters. An excess capacity at a wastewater treatment facility can occur when urban development is overestimated or when large industries leave the area.
By incorporating food waste, wastewater treatment facilities can have significant cost savings due to tipping fee for accepting the food waste and increasing energy production. via www.bioenergyconsult.com