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12 Nov 2020, 14:21
Kerstine Appunn

Small fraction of Germany's biogas plants contribute to grid stability – study

Clean Energy Wire

Some 14 percent of Germany’s power generation comes from biogas plants but only around 150 out of a total of 9,359 plants are run flexibly according to demand and to support grid stability, a study commissioned by the agency for renewable resources (Fachagentur Nachwachsende Rohstoffe – FNR) has found. To operate economically, the majority of plants are dependent on the fixed remuneration they get for feeding electricity into the grid permanently under the Renewable Energy Act (EEG). This is although biogas in theory has the considerable advantage over other renewables, such as wind and solar power, that its output can be steered and geared to times of peak demand and low availability of other renewables, or reduced at times of high wind and solar input. According to the German Biomass Research Centre (DBFZ), currently around 3,300 biogas and biomethane plants with an installed capacity of around 2.2 gigawatts (GW) receive a so-called flexibility premium under the EEG. With this premium, feeding electricity into the grid in high-demand periods promises additional revenues, but only a small fraction has already been operated on this basis, an analysis conducted by Agrarservice Lass GmbH has found. This is due to operators uncertainty whether they can run their plants efficiently, to the absence of suitable operating concepts, and also to the additional workload burden, the study concluded.

Horst Seide, president of the German Biogas Association (Fachverband Biogas), said at a press conference today that 2020 will see the overall number of biogas plants decrease for the first time but that the new Renewable Energy Act 2021 provides new investment incentives and possibilities for plant operators and new projects. “The new EEG is a positive signal to our sector but the government’s own climate and renewable targets will not be reached with it,” Seide said. The Fachverband Biogas said in a press release that “in addition to flexible electricity feed-in,” biogas had a very diverse potential in the energy transition, including heat utilisation, feeding upgraded biogas into the natural gas grid and producing fertiliser.

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