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Mixed feelings at the BIOGAS Convention Digital 2022 – political uncertainties are main topic

Impressions from the digital convention and the trade fair in Hanover

"Europe has fully recognized the potential of biogas and biomethane. Germany is the leading country to achieve the European climate targets of 35 billion cubic meters of biomethane in Europe in 2030," said Harmen Dekker, President of the European Biogas Association EBA. One or the other participant at this year's BIOGAS Convention will probably have thought of the title of our political lecture block: "Europe relies on biogas! - But what strategy is Germany pursuing?" At that time, it was anything but clear whether the hotly debated "Erlösabschöpfung" (revenue levy) would come or not. Accordingly, on November 7, the 32nd BIOGAS Convention - hosted by the German Biogas Association - started under rather bleak prospects. It was obvious early on: the industry was groaning under the uncertainty of its times and the mixed signals from Germany's policy makers.

Nonetheless, there was constant foot traffic at the digital convention from day one. A full program awaited the roughly 400 audience members, which was devoted not only to the current political trends in Germany and Europe but also to biogas evergreens such as law, safety, technology and biomethane. The program included a comprehensive lecture section with a total of 50 German and international presentations and offered a round table for subsequent debate between speakers, participants and the German Biogas Association itself.

One of the most discussed lectures were the partly not yet published findings concerning the efficient N-fertilization with fermentation products, into which Frederick Hartmann from the University of Gießen, research member of the IBAN project, gave latest insights. Wilhelm Winkelmann from Berliner Stadtreinigungsbetriebe presented an exciting implementation of how biomethane from municipal biowaste is used as fuel for waste collection vehicles. Uwe Welteke-Fabricius from the German company Fl(ex)perten presented new business models for biogas plants to storage power plants in the renewable energy levy.

International market reports from India and South America as well as successful projects regarding circular economy and biomethane in Europe and worldwide were presented and lively discussed by foreign associations, companies and research networks.

The most popular presentation (around 170 participants) was the German policy block on November 8. Vice president of the German Biogas Association, Christoph Spurk, and Head of the Hauptstadtbüro Bioenergie, Sandra Rostek, discussed the political uncertainties with Harmen Dekker and Markus Hümpfer (from the German Social Democrats Party SPD and member of the German parliament). Mrs Rostek also took time to present an economic outlook for biogas business if certain reforms came or did not come into effect.
By far the most frequently liked comment from the audience was: "Bank cancels financing commitment. Reason: Current political uncertainty in the biogas industry makes the business model unpredictable." Obviously, the uncertainty in the national industry has already lead to financial losses. Although Markus Hümpfer could not express much more than his willingness to fight for the industry's interests, his appearance at the convention was an important and hopeful signal.

All in all, the digital convention was well attended. However, the desire to return to the physical convention was plain to see. On November 11 the BIOGAS Convention 2022 ended - just in time for the heavily frequented EnergyDecentral trade fair in Hanover on the following Monday. The GBA has shown the red flag with regard to the draft law on the electricity price brake, and not just at the convention! For months now, the association has been making maximum efforts to draw attention to the potential of biogas in leading German media and on its own social channels. Recently, it launched a multimedia protest under the hashtag #LichtAus für #Biogas ("Lights out for Biogas") at the EnergyDecentral trade fair. On November 22, the GBA protested in front of the parliament building in Berlin and even got members of the Bundestag in front of the microphone.

Although the political outlook for biogas plant operators remains precarious, we at the German Biogas Association are tiredless planning for next year. Whether the 33rd BIOGAS Convention will then finally be allowed to take place again locally, namely in Nuremberg from December 12-14, 2023, remains to be seen.

Whether digitally or on site, we hope to see you there!

More information about the BIOGAS Convention and Fair Trade www.biogas-convention.com