Public Utilities Lead Biomethane Revolution in Germany

| Germany, Zörbig/Leipzig

VERBIO biogas plant in Zörbig

Claus Sauter, CEO of VERBIO (Vereinigte BioEnergie AG), has called for a “real energy revolution on the roads” when speaking on the fringe of the 16th Euroforum Annual Conference of Public Utilities 2012 in Berlin. He declared that multi-utilities and local authorities were already active, highlighting that climate-friendly transport fuelled by sustainably produced biomethane is possible.

By 2020, the European Union plans to raise the share of renewable energy used in the transport sector to 10%. “Biofuels must be the main driver of the energy revolution on the roads. This target cannot be reached in such a short time by means of electric vehicles or hydrogen. Moreover, the power used for electric mobility needs to come from renewables,” declared Claus Sauter. “However, biofuels also need to be produced sustainably and must not compete with food production,” he added.

VERBIO’s biomethane, named ‘verbiogas’, is produced solely from agricultural waste. Recently, the company began producing biomethane from straw. This fuel does not compete with food production and does not displace farmland. According to a study by the DBFZ German Biomass Research Centre, the quantity of straw that goes unused in Germany amounts to 8-13 million tonnes every year. The amount of energy this could produce could power 4 million cars over the same period.

verbiogas, which in chemical terms is identical to natural gas, reduces CO2 emissions compared to fossil fuels by up to 90%, yet is sold for the same price as CNG. Sauter says biomethane makes sense not just ecologically but also economically: “Our customers, the public and private utilities, hence stand to profit in a number of ways.”

Fed into the existing natural gas network, verbiogas is available at nearly 50 natural gas filling stations throughout Germany. According to Claus Sauter, public utilities and local authorities are leading the way in climate protection. VERBIO supplies numerous municipal multi-utilities, including in Munich, Augsburg, Braunschweig (Brunswick), Wernigerode and Wittenberg, whose natural gas refuelling stations now sell solely verbiogas. Meanwhile some local authorities have converted their natural gas bus fleets to verbiogas, making buses completely CO2-neutral. “Public utilities are hence not only making a decisive contribution to more climate protection but also substantially boosting residents’ quality of life,” explained Claus Sauter.

The company is currently working on a dual-fuel design for lorries which is also expected to improve sales of biomethane. This technology involving parallel operation on diesel and biomethane is not yet widespread in Germany – so VERBIO is currently testing it on its own fleet of lorries. The dual-fuel concept not only offers a genuine alternative to help protect the climate but also cuts fuel costs for haulage companies significantly. That will give a fillip to natural gas/biogas transport.

(This article compiled using information from a VERBIO AG press release)

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