Unlocking the Energy Potential of Manure : An Assessment of the Biogas Production Potential at the Farm Level in Germany
Residues from animal husbandry are one of the major greenhouse gas (GHG) emission sources in agriculture. The production of biogas from agricultural residues can reduce GHG emissions through an improved handling of the material streams such as manure storage. Additionally, biogas can substitute fossil energy carriers in the provision of heat, power, and transport fuels. The aim of this work is to estimate the manure potential for biogas production in Germany under the consideration of the farm size of livestock production. In Germany, cattle and pig farming is of major relevance with more than 130,000 farms throughout the country. To unlock the biogas potential of manure, the low energy density of manure, depending on the dry matter content, needs to be considered, meaning that biogas installations need to be built close to the manure production on the farm site. This not only results in a high number of biogas plants, but also due to the wide range of farm sizes in Germany, a huge number of very small biogas plants. Small biogas installations have higher specific investment costs. Together with the relatively low methane yields from manure, costs for power generation would be very high. Co-substrates with higher methane yield can lower the costs for biogas. Thus, the use of a co-substrate could help to use small manure potentials. Biogas plants with the necessary minimum size of 50 kWel installed power could be established at farms representing 12% of all cattle and 16.5% of all pigs respectively in Germany. Using excrement from pigs, farms representing 16.5% of the total amount of pigs could establish a biogas plant. The use of manure in combination with energy crops can increase the size of biogas plants on a farm site significantly. At cattle farms, the share would increase to 31.1% with 40% co-substrate and to 40.8% with 60% co-substrate. At pig farms, the share would increase to 36% if co-substrates were used.