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The Potential of Biogas: Lessons from Germany Steve Plachinski, Aleia McCord, Mirna Santana, Jeff Starke, Sarah Stefanos CHANGE-IGERT, UW-Madison

Outline 1.  Introduction to Biogas 2.  The World Leader – Germany 3.  Three Lessons from Germany 4.  Social and Policy Considerations

What is Biogas? – Inputs Inputs

Biological Ac*vity  


Manure Substrates   •   Corn  Silage   •   Wheat   •   Grass  (hay)   •   Food  Waste   •   Others  

Anaerobic Digester  

•  Microbes   •   Heat   •   No  oxygen  

Digested Solids  

Biogas (50-­‐75%  Methane)  

What is Biogas? – Outputs and End Uses Biological Ac*vity  


End Uses  



Anaerobic Digester  


Biogas Solids  

Direct Use   Upgrade  to   Pipeline  Quality  

•  Fer*lizer   •   Animal  Bedding  

Transporta*on Fuel  

Germany – The World Leader in Biogas

Sources: Beyond Biofuels: Renewable Energy Opportunities for US Farmers, Heinrich Böll Stiftung (2010) Biogas: Rethinking the Midwest’s Potential, Peter Taglia (2010)

Three Lessons from Germany 1.  Business Models –  Industry pioneers; co-ownership; partnering with universities, nearby communities, energy utilities

2.  System Scale and Design –  Large vs. small systems; unique system designs

3.  Innovative Inputs and End Uses –  Substrates; additives; uses of heat; pipeline gas

Industry Pioneer and University Partnership

Co-ownership and Community Partnership

Split Ownership with Energy Utility Electricity

On-­‐site Combus4on  


Corn Silage   Grass   (100%)  

Farmer Responsible   U4lity  Responsible  



Storage Tank  

Sell to   U4lity  



Upgrade (cleaning)   Process  


Inject into   NG  Pipeline  

Integrative Business Model How Can Wisconsin Do This? –  Consider a variety of ownership structures (utilities, companies, etc.) –  Work with researchers (universities, etc.) –  Identify possible partnerships with local community or businesses –  Synergies with other bioenergy resources (ex. ethanol and biogas) Source: National Agricultural Statistics Service, USDA (2010)

Small-Scale System

Large-Scale System

Three-Ring Digester Design •  On-­‐farm  Heat   •   Wood  Drying  

# Livestock:  0   #  Acres  in  Cul4va4on:  230  ha      #  Years  in  Opera4on:  4   Biogas  

1 MW   Electricity  


Corn Silage   Grass   (100%)  





…and Fully Automated

New Technologies and Designs

System Scale and Design How Can Wisconsin Do This? –  Small-scale biogas systems are possible –  Consider a variety of system designs –  Explore new technologies that can lower costs and increase system versatility

Inputs – 100% Crops (no manure)

Inputs – Digester Additives

End Use - Drying Wood

End Use - Heat for Community Use

End Use – Adding Value

On-­‐site Combus4on   Electricity   Heat  

Municipal Sludge   (1km  away)   No Sludge to Landfill

On-­‐Site Drier   •   25%  Solids  In   •   90%  Solids  Out  


Beneficial Heat Usage

Profit = €49 per ton sludge (wet)

Cement Plant   (50km  away)   Incinerated  with  coal   Decrease volume coal

End Use – Renewable Natural Gas

Innovative Inputs and End Uses How Can Wisconsin Do This? –  Conduct more research on optimal substrate combinations –  Identify potential substrate sources from on-farm and non-farm sources –  Work with neighbors and local community to determine best end uses –  Maximize use of combustion heat

Social & Policy Context for Germany’s Biogas Success Social Context / Motivations 1.  Progressive approach to waste 2.  Climate Change 3.  Energy Security

German Policies 1.  Feed-in-Tariff is instrumental 2.  Result of a bottom-up process

Different social context and policy environment in Wisconsin • How is the motivation for biogas different in Wisconsin? • What might Wisconsin’s social and policy environment need to be to grow its biogas industry?

Conclusions 1.  Business Models 2.  System Scale and Design 3.  Innovative Inputs and End Uses 4.  Social Context and Policy Environment are Important Factors

Acknowledgements •  German hosts –  –  –  –  –  –  – 

Robert Höre Jurgen and family Bernd Roth Rolf Weigel Petra Hess Klaus Hoppe Paul Thürwächter

•  Trip Participants –  Gary Radloff –  Amanda Bilek –  Ted Petith

•  The CHANGE program –  Rob Beattie –  Carmela Diosana –  Jonathan Patz

The Potential of Biogas: Lessons from Germany  

UW-Madison Center for Sustainability and the Global Environment Student Steve Plachinski's presentation from the Homegrown Energy: Biogas br...

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