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Case Study

BayWa r.e. rescues Germany’s pilot biogas plant

Setting the scene

As a leader in the German renewable energy market, the opportunity arose to save the award-winning Pliening biogas facility. Pliening is the oldest biomethane facility in Germany and it was a rescue mission that we were excited to take up.

Located in Bavaria, the plant creates natural gas and has a feed-in biomethane capacity of 485 Nm3 biomethane per hour (equalling around 5,300 kW), which makes an annual output of approximately 45 GWh.

Unfortunately, the previous owners could no longer continue with the plant as they were unable to keep up with its maintenance requirements. Through our raw material supply, we were already involved with Pliening and were able to quickly step in to save the plant.

Meeting the Challenge

Because Pliening was the first biogas facility in Germany, now over 11 years’ old, much of the site was in serious need of updating.

The storage facility stretches over one hectare and can store over 40,000 tonnes of maize and corn. Over time, the facility had started to leak, posing an ecological hazard. Failing to meet newly-introduced regulations for biogas facilities the local authority was close to shutting the plant down.

BayWa r.e. purchased the plant and quickly launched a renovation programme aiming to upgrade the whole plant within just 12 months while also keeping it fully operational.

We worked closely with the local planning authority to update the site. The priorities for earth and water monitoring, and addressing the leaking storage facilities, were met straightaway through the innovative approach of insulating all the storage facilities to make them fully watertight.

With dozens of small to medium sized maize farmers relying on the feedstock supply for the plant, temporarily closing Pliening was not an option. Throughout the entire renovation we were able to maintain supplies.

Getting the result

We updated the site to meet new safety standards within only 14 months. As Germany’s oldest biomethane facility it was a big win for BayWa r.e to save the plant.

Not only did we quickly enable the plant to meet all the new regulations but we were also able to meet production targets while the renovations were taking place.

The transformational process was extremely challenging to deliver but it has proved just what can be achieved when you have expert, committed and passionate people working together.

The site is important to Germany’s renewable energy. Working collaboratively with the local authority and farmers, we modernised Pliening whilst maintaining output levels. It is a terrific achievement.

Frank Gold
Head of Sales and Customer Care, BayWa r.e. Bioenergy GmbH

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