Through the support of the European Union’s NER 300 subsidy project, VERBIO Vereinigte BioEnergie AG’s has developed an innovative production plant for biomethane that is manufactured from 100% straw.
“With this first-of-a-kind project, we will help protect the climate and make Europe less energy dependent. The innovative VERBIOstraw project is funded under the European Commission’s NER 300 programme because it demonstrates an advanced biogas technology at large scale,” claimed Kerstin Lichtenvort, EU project coordinator for the NER 300 program in Brussels.
VERBIO has reached the first project milestone on schedule, feeding the first gigawatt hours of biomethane generated from 100 percent straw since October 2014 into the local natural gas network operated by Stadtwerke Schwedt.
Dr. Lüdtke, Chairman of the Management Board of VERBIO AG, said: “With our straw bio-methane technology we are demonstrating that second generation biofuels using local supply chains are no longer a thing of the future, but are today’s reality. We appreciate the support provided by the European Union NER 300 program, and see this as a clear EU commitment to the future of biofuels.” He added, “Our biomethane is generated using straw from local farmers. This is ‘hands-on climate protection’ for our customers driving natural gas vehicles.”
VERBIO AG has been the operator of two large biomethane plants since as long ago as 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 maxi-mum economic and ecological efficiency. In exchange, the fermentation waste is provided to farmers as organic fertilizer. This local production chain is creating employment in the region’s agricultural sector and ensure 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 eight and thirteen million tons of straw that could be used to manufacture bioenergy currently remain unused according to a study by the DBFZ (Deutsches Biomasseforschungszentrum – German biomass research center). This energy quantity represents the fuel required annually by more than five million motor cars.
However, we need political commitments to targets and to subsidy mechanisms for second gen-eration biofuels to ensure that we can continue to make unhindered innovative progress.