Biogas in Germany: Maintaining momentum

(EurActiv, 7 Jan 2019) With the European Parliament backing a net zero emissions target for 2050, EU member states will need to further develop their biogas markets to continue to reduce emissions from waste, energy, and transport, write Benjamin Budde and David Newman.

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

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.

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EurActiv, 7 Jan 2019: Biogas in Germany: Maintaining momentum