German greentech report highlights biomass, biofuels

By Erin Voegele | October 19, 2012

The German Federal Environmental Ministry has released an environmental technology atlas produced by Roland Gerger Strategy Consultants. The report, titled “GreenTech made in Germany 3.0,” is the third such atlas produced by the consulting organization for the German government. Overall, the analysis projects the total share of environmental technologies in German gross domestic product (GDP) will increase from 11 percent in 2011 to more than 20 percent in 2025.

"The new GreenTech Atlas makes it vividly clear that the old, incorrect view of a conflict between the environment and the economy is thoroughly outdated,” said Federal Environment Minister Peter Altmaier. “In the foreseeable future, green technologies will account for one fifth of Germany's gross domestic product. This ongoing success story is due in particular to the innovative strength and strong position of small and medium-sized enterprises in Germany when it comes to environmental technology and resource efficiency."

According to the report, renewable energy in general is expected to increase by more than €151.2 billion by 2025, representing an 8 percent annual increase. In 2011, renewable energy accounted for 19.69 percent of gross power generation in 2011. Biogenic solid fuels represented 9.3 percent of the renewable energy in 2011. Biogenic liquid fuels accounted for only 1.1 percent during the same time period. Biogas, sewage gas, landfill gas, and the biogenic share of waste each represented a relative 14.4 percent, 0.9 percent, 0.5 percent and 4.1 percent of renewable energy generation in Germany during 2011.

The analysis also noted that non-food crops are cultivated in almost one-fifth of German fields, representing 2.1 million hectares (5.2 million acres). Most are used for the purposes of energy generation.

Biogas plants are of particular importance in the German bioenergy sector. According to the report, 3,700 biogas plants were in operation in Germany in 2007, with a combined output of 1,270 MW. By 2010, the number of biogas plants had risen to 5,900, with a total output of 2,300 MW. “Biogas plants currently account for 14.4 percent of the power supplied from regenerative sources, placing them fourth behind wind power, photovoltaics and hydropower,” said the authors in the report.

In 2010, biomass was used to produce 33.5 billion kWh of power, a 10 percent increase over 2009. In addition, biomass accounted for 92 percent of the heat produced from renewable resources, providing approximately 127 billion kWh of thermal energy in 2010.

Regarding biofuels, the report stated that demand increased in 2010 after falling slightly for several years, reaching 3.8 million tons. The market consumed 3.5 million tons in 2009. Ethanol was the fastest growing biofuel segment, which a 28 percent increase. Biodiesel sales also increased by 3 percent.

The analysis also noted that Sud-Chemie AG is developing a demonstration-scale cellulosic ethanol plant in Straubing, Bavaria, with a production capacity of 2,000 tons per year. The facility features Sud-Chemie’s sunliquid technology. In addition, the report highlights bioplastics, noting that projections have shown that 70 percent of packaging is expected to be produced from bioplastic in the long term.