Gerold Fuge and Mark Landfried had merged German farms 10 years ago with a simple goal of creating better sustainable future for their operations. Becoming more energy efficient was part of that goal plan. For many years in Germany, farms had relied upon nuclear power to fulfill their needs of electricity.
After Japan’s Fukushima’s incident, eight out of 17 nuclear reactors in Germany were immediately closed down. At present only 8 reactors are operating. There was very high dependency of Germany on nuclear power for electrical supply, but from 2017, people have shifted their preferences to alternative sources for power generation. Fuge and Landfried intend to utilize the crops they grow on their farm for generating power through the medium of biogas plant on their farm.
Initially they made an investment of about $2.5 million Euros on the plant. “We hope to see a return on our investment in 15 years,” he says. “It depends on what repairs we have to make along the way or if the government adds more mandates like it did three years ago and we had to invest in a burner tube. If the motors break down and you can’t use the biogas, you have to burn it down the tube.”
Fuge informed that for the biogas facility only green crops can be used. If the corn turns 40% dry or higher then it cannot be used for the purpose. He also said that any type of grass can be used but they use a special grass from Hungary called ‘Szarvasi’. At present they have dedicated 200 hectares of land to grow crops for the plant. Out of 200 hectares, 175 hectares is used for corn and 25 for grass. Annually 10,000 tons of silage is produced.
Fuge explained that biogas is being produced 24/7, 365 days a year. “It’s about 14,000 kilowatt hours per day or roughly 4.5 million kilowatt hours per year, which is enough energy for 1,200 households.”
Around half per cent of the 4.5 million kilowatt generated from the biogas plant is used to generate electricity and the rest is thermal power utilized to dry down the barley.