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Decommissioning of the German gas grid: Ministry of Economic Affairs ignores major biomethane potential to achieve German climate targets


The consultation period for the Green Paper on the transformation of the German gas distribution grid ends today. The strategy paper from the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action envisages the extensive decommissioning of the gas distribution network and a partial conversion of the network from methane to hydrogen. The chances of switching from fossil methane to renewable methane are practically not considered.

Horst Seide, President of Fachverband Biogas e.V. (German Biogas Association) is sceptical about the draft strategy paper on the transformation of the German gas and hydrogen distribution network and notes: "The current political debate completely underestimates the demand and benefits of both renewable methane and gas distribution networks in Germany. While a clear expansion target of 35 billion standard cubic meters of biomethane in 2030 was formulated by the European Union at the end of 2022 as part of the REPowerEU plan, the Ministry of Economic Affairs seems to be completely unimpressed by these EU targets".

According to Seide, the importance of the future distribution grid is being underestimated: "Even with the increasing electrification of heating households and the expansion of district heating, distribution grids are needed for back-up capacities in order to bridge longer phases with low wind and solar power generation as well as consumption peaks in heating grids."

In addition, the many advantages and potentials of converting gas grids to the transportation of renewable methane are not being taken seriously. The President points out: "Renewable methane is more suitable than hydrogen for seasonal energy storage and for firing gas-fired power plants and flexible CHP plants. In addition, bio-methane production produces climate-neutral CO2 as a by-product that can be used to defossilize production processes, for the production of synthetic methane or for negative emissions."

By developing additional substrates that do not compete with food and animal feed production and converting existing plants and producing synthetic methane, the feed-in of renewable methane in Germany can be increased many times over compared to today.

The extent to which it is possible and sensible to replace natural gas with renewable methane for certain parts of the gas distribution network must be decided both locally - as part of municipal heating planning - and in line with overarching network planning based on the respective heating plans. The maintenance of existing long-distance pipeline networks for the transport of renewable methane is necessary in any case in order to cover supra-regional requirements, to realize imports and transits and to use the storage capacity of the gas network.

About the Bioenergy Associations
In the "Hauptstadtbüro Bioenergie", four associations combine their expertise and resources in the field of energy policy:
Bundesverband Bioenergie e.V. (BBE), Deutsche Bauernverband e.V. (DBV), Fachverband Biogas e.V. (FvB, German Biogas Association (GBA) and Fachverband Holzenergie (FVH). Together, they represent the entire bioenergy sector, including farmers, foresters, manufacturers, energy suppliers, operators, and planners. The capital office Hauptstadtbüro Bioenergie gives the many different stakeholders and various technologies in the bioenergy industry a unified strong voice in dealing with policymakers. Especially in the electricity and heat sectors, it advocates across technologies for the energy policy interests of its member associations. When engaging with political decision-makers, the capital office can draw upon a broad support network and cooperates particularly with the German Renewable Energy Federation (BEE).

Fachverband Biogas e.V.
Andrea Horbelt
Press officer
Tel. 0 81 61 / 98 46 63
Mail: andrea.horbelt@biogas.org