A new biogas technology is capable of producing this renewable energy resource precisely when it is needed for the production of electricity. Biodegradable waste is increasingly being used as an input. 10/2011

 

A two-stage biogas facility is already operating in Cottbus. Photo: Gicon

The Dresden-based company Gicon has developed a two-stage biogas facility which can stop and start its production on demand. Integrated in its own power plant, the facility is able to produce a targeted amount of electricity at medium and peak load, when the most electricity is needed. Moreover, as division manager Hagen Hilse reported recently at the Dresden Biogas Congress, the Gicon facility produces a very energy-rich biogas whose methane content is comparatively high at 70 to 80 percent.

The company’s first two facilities have already gone into operation. They have yet to be used for load-based electricity production, however, for lack of financial incentives. At present Gicon is working to retrofit a residual waste processing plant with its biogas technology.


Saxon Agricultural and Environmental Minister Frank Kupfer pointed out at the congress that biogas production from biodegradable waste would be promoted with new regulations. The German federal government, in its draft of a new recycling management law, has stipulated that biodegradable waste should be collected separately if it makes ecological and economic sense. The Federal Council plans to work on the law in November. The amended Renewable Energy Law, which takes effect in 2012, has likewise provided more favorable conditions for using biodegradable and biogenic waste in biogas plants. “Our own investigations have shown that there is considerable potential in Saxony for exploiting biodegradable and biogenic waste,” the minister said.

There are currently almost 7,000 biogas facilities in Germany. Experts estimate that only about 100 of these use source-segregated organic waste. Thus, more than four-fifths of the energy content of biodegradable waste is unused. Though collected separately as organic trash, it is ultimately processed at composting plants together with residual waste. By the same token, this means that an energy potential of 3.6 million tons of organic waste can be tapped into in the coming years. Biogas plants could produce 216 million cubic meters of methane gas a year from this.



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