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A New Opportunity for Biomethane in Germany?

Germany was undoubtedly the driving force in Europe for the development of a nation-wide anaerobic digestion (AD) and biogas industry. Supported by the Renewable Energy Sources Act (Erneuerbare Energien Gesetz) (EEG) this in turn provided the renewable energy blueprint for many other European markets to follow.

However, the EEG became such a successful support mechanism, that a surge in biogas plants after 2003, meant the government had to react, and take increasing measures to reduce the feed-in tariffs for renewable electricity. These subsidies had to be paid for by the electricity consumers, which was becoming expensive, and the additional renewable electricity was beginning to exceed existing grid capacity.

By the end of 2016 around 9,000 biogas plants were operational in Germany.

The EEG feed-in tariffs were typically granted for a for a period of 20 years. Very soon there will be a significant, and increasing, number of biogas plants which will have to search for alternative options. It will no longer be economic to operate the AD plants under the current feed-in tariff available.

One option could be to shut the plants down. Biogas plants are complex installations which can require cost-intensive maintenance to continue operating efficiently. Major re-investment is required on the Combined Heat and Power (CHP) co-generation units, typically after 60,000 hours’ operation.

For this reason alone, operators of mid-aged biogas plants are now faced with the question whether they should re-invest in the existing installation, and if they should prepare for the future post EEG.

Puregas Solutions are now able to offer an economic alternative to the EEG. Small scale, turnkey biogas upgrading and liquefaction plants for the local production of bioLNG.

Increased demand for LNG as a vehicle fuel, the Blue Corridors project’s aim to establish LNG as a real alternative for medium and long distance transport, first as a complementary fuel and later as an adequate substitute for diesel, is opening new opportunities for biogas.

Rather than liquefying natural gas from the grid, there is a strong economic and environmental argument for the use of biomethane, or to use a blend of natural gas and biomethane for the LNG production to satisfy this new demand. Depending on the bioLNG customer requirements, the portion of biogas can be adjusted to make the blended product most competitive while still reducing carbon impact.

Standard plants are available to produce 6, 10, 17 and 25 tons of bioLNG per day, treating the equivalent of 600, 1000, 1700 and 2500 Nm3/h of biogas (60% CH4). If using blended natural gas the biogas production values can be reduced.

Puregas Solutions deliver several options for biogas, ranging from upgrading to biomethane (Renewable Natural Gas) for grid injection, compression for bioCNG, to liquefaction for bioLNG and fuelling infrastructure.

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