In a bid to reduce, if not eliminate, its dependence on gas imports from Russia, Germany is turning to a surprising alternative: methane distilled from the fumes given off by animal manure.
As unusual as this may seem, a system using methane to power home heating systems is already in place in the village of Ribbeck, where 20 homes are already benefiting from a mini power plant powered by manure and other agricultural wastes.
According to dairy farmer Peter Kaim, tons of organic matter is stored in three larger cylinders and processed by putrefactive bacteria into gas. He believes it is a personal contribution to his country’s drive to Weanselves from Russian gas imports. He has called upon local authorities to push for biogas as a suitable renewable alternative.
Green Gas for Power Resilience
Earlier this month, the German government declared that it planned to increase the production of green or eco-friendly gas to ensure the country’s resilience in light of massive hikes in the price of power and power generation, the result of the ongoing Balkan conflict.
Before the current crisis, Germany imported 55% of its natural gas from Russia, along with half its coal and 35% of its crude oil. Even then, biogas only made up 1% of the country’s total energy consumption.
While it aired its support for the biogas sector at the start of the current century, Germany turned its back on biogas in 2014. Several experts claimed that the fumes produced by organic matter did the environment more harm than good. They also claimed that giving over fields of arable land to produce such matter cut into the country’s future food security.
Nevertheless, Germany remains a regional leader when it comes to greener fuels. The current crisis has once again fueled its impetus to consider alternative energy sources.
To address concerns from the agricultural sector regarding the use of land in the context of food security, Ingo Baumstark, spokesperson of Germany’s federation of gas producers, says that the expansion of biogas production may be done in a decentralized manner. In other words, they are going the way of small-scale installations for community use like Peter Kaim’s and maximizing the use of sustainable raw materials.