Small scale biogas plants to improve Austria’s biogas capacity

  • Viktoria Leitner (Speaker)

Activity: Talk or presentationOral presentation


Whenever discussing biomass for bioenergy production one has to face the problem of the food versus fuel dilemma. Especially the production of bioethanol and biogas is criticised for their competition with food markets and for rising prices of products for everyday needs. To overcome ethical discussions with simultaneous increase of renewable resources, the focus today is on the usage of diverse organic waste and by-products like straw, wood chips, catch crops and liquid manure. One property, which decelerates the intensive utilization of most agricultural by-products, is the relatively low energy content per unit of volume without any pretreatment (e.g. pelletizing, drying) - therefore long transportation is not reasonable [1]. Today the average biogas plant size in Austria is about 270 kWel [2]. Compared to other European countries you would categorise this as small, agricultural scale plants but due to Austria’s basic agricultural conditions they are too large for an excessive use of the just mentioned substrates. In addition to its energy potential, the utilization of liquid manure can help to reduce the emissions of agricultural green-house-gases, but in Austria in many regions it is not possible to provide a sufficient amount of liquid manure to reduce energy crops input within a profitable radius of 5-10 km. Today the proportion of anaerobically digested liquid manure is only 5-6% of the theoretical amount available. If all liquid manure were used, 2.352 GWh [3] of total energy would be produced, which is equivalent to 150% of the power generated via biogas today. Following the economy of scale, Europe’s biogas plants are still growing in size, while Austria’s biogas capacity remains constant. One possibility for Austria to increase capacity and the percentage of liquid manure used is the installation of small decentralized farm based biogas plants. While a reduction of size in Europe seems not economically feasible [4], small scale biogas plants in India and China are no rarities. Due to strict regulations in Austria, concerning explosion and emission control, the production of biogas in comparable low-cost, low-tech biogas plants is not possible. To minimise economic pressure for small scale biogas plants it needs to be analysed if all the regulations in Austria intrinsically help to minimise the hazard potential. The author wants to present results of an ecological assessment of anaerobic digested manure compared to average an best practice manure management in Austria as well as concepts for cost reduction for manure based small scale biogas plants in Austria.
Period17 Feb 2012
Event title2nd Annual European Postgraduate Sustainable Development Symposiom
Event typeWorkshop
LocationGraz, AustriaShow on map