Through the support of the European Union, VERBIO Vereinigte BioEnergie AG has developed an innovative production plant for biomethane that is manufactured from 100% straw. VERBIO has reached the first project milestone on schedule, feeding the first gigawatt hours of biomethane generated from 100% straw since October 2014 into the local natural gas network operated by Stadtwerke Schwedt. “Straw bio-methane technology is a clear demonstration that second generation biofuels using local supply chains are no longer a thing of the future, but are today’s reality,” commented Dr. Lüdtke, Chairman of the Management Board of VERBIO AG.
VERBIO AG has been the operator of two large biomethane plants since 2011, each with a capacity of 30 MW. These plants produce approximately 480 GWh of biomethane from distillation slop, a waste raw material by-product generated from bioethanol production, with the resulting biomethane used as biofuel for vehicles powered by natural gas. With the volume produced VERBIO supplies more than 100 of the 900 natural gas fuel stations in Germany, making it the unchallenged market leader in this segment.
The new plant, also developed internally, is based on mono straw fermentation technology. The plant will be extended to reach 16,5 MW capacity by the year 2019, generating 140 gigawatt hours of biomethane annually for sale as biofuel from approximately 40.000 tons of straw. To date, EUR 25 million has already been invested in the construction of the plant. Further amounts will be invested in the coming years to optimise the plant. The straw used to fuel the plant is gathered within a radius of 80km of the plant to ensure maximum economic and ecological efficiency. In exchange, the fermentation waste is provided to farmers as organic fertiliser. This local production chain creates employment in the region’s agricultural sector and ensures maximum CO2 efficiency.
The new VERBIO technology makes it possible to leverage a massive potential raw material source which has been unused to date. In Germany alone, an annual quantity of between 8 and 13 million tons of straw that could be used to manufacture bioenergy currently remain unused according to a study by the DBFZ (German biomass research center). This energy quantity represents the fuel required annually by more than 5 million motor cars.