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German biogas market falling well short of its potential

Freising, Germany.

+++ Marginal growth 2017 +++ Legal hurdles ever increasing +++ Next bidding round for biomass soon approaching +++

The German biogas market continues to stagnate. In 2017 just 133 new biogas plants became operational. This figure includes 115 small-scale liquid manure plants with an output of max. 75 kilowatts (kW), primarily used for fermenting manure. After deducting eleven shutdowns, the total number of plants thus rises by 122 to 9,331.

In all, these 9,331 biogas plants account for an output of some 4,550 megawatts – sufficient to supply almost ten million homes with electricity. The increase in installed capacity amounted to 313 megawatts (MW) in 2017. However, of this only 19 MW are work-relevant - i.e. additionally feeding biogas electricity into the grid. The remaining 294 MW were installed to make power generation via biogas plants more flexible and in line with requirements: At times of high demand these additional combined heat and power plants (CHPs) swiftly generate large amounts of electricity, and with low demand, they store the gas without producing any electricity.

Dr. Claudius da Costa Gomez, Chief Executive Officer of the German Biogas Association, considers flexible power generation to be a key task of the biogas sector. This potential does not however receive sufficient recognition. "The German biogas sector is currently running on the spot", comments da Costa Gomez with regret.

He goes on to explain that there are many different reasons for this: legal requirements are becoming increasingly demanding, ever stricter and ever more costly for the operator. The bidding model in force since 2017 is also highly complex and laborious, and the maximum bid limit it specifies, 16.8 cent/kilowatt hour for existing plants and 14.8 cent for new facilities, is not adequate. This also makes financing new projects increasingly difficult. Here the CEO sees an urgent need for amendment of the Renewable Energy Act (EEG).

And time is short: in two years the first biogas plants will no longer be covered by the EEG. The act, which entered into force in April 2000, guarantees a fixed remuneration tariff for electricity over 20 years. By this time at the latest operators will have to decide whether to continue with the business, taking part in the tenders to then obtain guaranteed payment for the electricity they feed in for a further ten years or whether to shut down their plant.

The global market leader is at risk of being ousted from the No. 1 spot. Turnover generated abroad continues to rise. "But without a functioning domestic market there won't be any development. The German biogas branch will be overtaken by countries such as France or Italy", is the fear expressed by da Costa Gomez.

For 2018 the German Biogas Association is forecasting figures similar to those in 2017. Besides becoming more flexible, the association sees options for the future being offered in the fuel market, the climate-friendly supply of heat and the treatment of fermentation products for marketing to farmers and horticulturists.

"Biogas plants make a key contribution to protecting the climate and the environment. This is our driving force - and why we urgently need the energy transition to move to 100 percent renewables. We must set the course now – and biogas will play an important role on the path towards a future free from CO
2", emphasizes da Costa Gomez.

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German Biogas Association [Fachverband Biogas e.V.]

Fachverband Biogas e.V. represents the biogas industry in the German Renewable Energy Federation (BEE) e.V. Fachverband Biogas e.V. is Europe’s largest advocacy organisation for the biogas sector and counts more than 4,700 members, including operators, manufacturers and planners of biogas plants as well as representatives from science and industry. www.biogas.org/EN


Contact:
German Biogas Association [Fachverband Biogas e.V.]
Andrea Horbelt
Press contact
Tel. 0049 - 81 61/98 46 63
Mail: andrea.horbelt@biogas.org