Press release BoxID: 190442 (E.ON Ruhrgas AG)
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Europe's largest biomethane plant now in operation

E.ON systematically continues expansion of renewables

(PresseBox) (Essen, ) E.ON is today inaugurating, together with Schmack AG, Europe's largest biomethane plant at Schwandorf in Bavaria. Since the beginning of the year biogas has been produced there from regional raw materials. This biogas is then treated to reach natural gas quality and fed as biomethane into the natural gas pipeline system of E.ON Bayern.

"In the field of renewable energies, biomethane plays an important role in our portfolio of promising technologies," said Dr. Frank Mastiaux, managing director of E.ON Climate & Renewables GmbH. "The commissioning of the Schwandorf plant is another milestone in our programme for growth, which we will systematically implement by 2010 with an investment volume of up to € 6 billion."

At the Schwandorf plant, about 16 million m3 of biogas can be obtained annually from roughly 85,000 tonnes of local renewable resources. Not only maize, but also grass and intercrop silage is used. "Farmers from the Schwandorf area are important partners for us," Dr. Peter Deml, E.ON Bayern said, "the long-term supply contracts for the necessary materials are worth up to € 4 million a year. Thus our plant also helps the local economy."

The output of filtered biogas upgraded to natural gas quality, i.e. biomethane, is approx. 1,000 m3 per hour. Mr. Mastiaux: "With this plant we can cover the entire natural gas needs of some 5,000 households."

Furthermore, it has proved possible with the aid of special crop sequences to reduce by about a third the required crop-growing area compared with other biogas plants. This crop sequence also increases soil fertility, thus leading to sustainable land use.

The decisive advantage of biomethane is that, as a climate-neutral fuel, it can be used everywhere by distributing it through the gas network. There are many options for efficient use of biomethane: in the transport sector, in cogeneration plants or in packaged cogeneration systems. The decoupling of biogas production sites and the use of biomethane together achieve greater efficiency for the benefit of our climate.

"Customers readily accept green biomethane," said Dr. Bernhard Reutersberg, CEO of E.ON Ruhrgas AG. Biomethane can be offered nationwide - a milestone in the sales of a renewable energy product. "Biomethane means security of supply, efficiency and climate protection all in one and is therefore part of our long-term supply strategy," Mr. Reutersberg stated.

By expanding these activities E.ON is involved in a market which is said to have great growth potential. "We assume that by 2030 about 10 % of existing natural gas consumption in Germany can be covered with biomethane," said Fritz Wolf, managing director of E.ON Bioerdgas. "And this can be done without adversely affecting areas needed to grow food and feedstuff. The biomethane consumption anticipated in 2030 corresponds to the energy needs of 5 million households."