What are the environmental effects of biogas

Biogas plants are a danger to people, the climate and the environment

27.05.2019

"Biogas plants are a danger to people, the climate and the environment," warns the Federal Environment Agency (UBA). Serious accidents in biogas plants occur every two weeks: fires and explosions in biogas plants, fatal clouds of hydrogen sulfide, uncontrolled methane emissions, liquid manure tsunamis.

Biogas plants: Alleged climate protectors with security deficits“, Writes the Federal Environment Agency (UBA) in a current report and calls for a legally binding biogas plant regulation to regulate them.

Since 2005 are at least 17 people killed and 74 injured in accidents in biogas plantsthe UBA continues. In addition, houses, streets, fields, bodies of water and protected areas of "Liquid manure tsunamis" floodedbecause fermentation tanks burst or pipes burst.

"In 2017 were 32 accidents in biogas plantsregistered where around 5.5 million liters of liquid manure, liquid manure and silage seepage juices as well as fermentation substrates (JGS) were releasedwere ", writes the Federal Environment Agency about accidents with water-polluting substances.

Already around 9,000 biogas plantsgenerate methane gas in Germany through the fermentation of maize and organic material, which is used as fuel to generate electricity and heat. Everywhere in the country, but also in the immediate vicinity of residential and commercial areas, these are ticking dangerous time bombs.

The consequences are felt by people and the environment: "Up to 1,000 cubic meters of liquid manure ran into the Große Laaber" or "Manipulated biogas plant causes fish deaths in the Isen", for example, reports the Bavarian Broadcasting Corporation on March 15 and April 10, 2019. Alone in BavariaAccording to the broadcaster, there was a total of 2017 and 2018 56 biogas accidents, at them 38 water bodies affectedwere.

The Federal Environment Agency evaluates media reports for its accident statistics, as there has so far only been a limited obligation to report accidents in biogas plants. The actual accident numbers are likely to be significantly higher, write the experts from the Federal Environment Agency in an internal letter, reports Der Spiegel. Because smaller accidents are less interesting for the media and are therefore not recorded.

AboutThree quarters of the biogas plants tested by expertssupposed to be substantial safety-related deficiencieshave and will be the Hazard potentialoften not fair. These include "plastic sewer pipes glued together or even just plugged together as gas lines" or membrane systems "made from glued together foils for garden ponds from the hardware store".

About 5 percent of what is produced in biogas plants on average Methaneescapes uncontrolled into the the atmosphere- about 300,000 tons per year. Methane is a highly effective greenhouse gas: its global warming potential is at least 28 times higher than that of carbon dioxide.

Overall, biogas plants can even cause more emissions of climate-damaging gases than they save, writes the UBA.

Also use about 80 percent of the biogas plantsspecially grown as a fermentation substrate Energy crops- Mainly maize, partly also grain or grass. Only around 20 percent of the systems run on waste, residues or liquid manure.

The direct consequence is that "Corning "of the landscape. Where food was previously grown, pastures or fallow land are now spreading 1.35 million hectares of endless corn monocultures for biogasout. The 3 meter high energy plants do not provide a habitat for plants and animals, biodiversity is dwindling, the landscape is ruined.

The plant operators are displacing the traditional farmers who can no longer afford the land prices, which have risen sharply as a result of the biogas boom. Because about that Renewable Energies Act (EEG), biogas plants receive massive financial support. They enjoy guaranteed feed-in tariffs and various bonus payments for over 20 years.

Save the rainforest calls for no more new biogas plants to be approved and the existing systems based on Switch off maize and other cultivated energy crops as soon as possible.

Such biogas plants are nothing more than alucrative business model at the expense of people and the environment. We finance the systems through the EEG allowance, which is added to our monthly electricity bills. Energy-intensive companies are exempt from this.

There is resistance to biogas plants all over Germany. These are considered by the legislator classified privileged, i.e. there are hardly any requirements for their approval and construction. This makes it difficult for residents and local authorities to prevent the plants.

Sources and further information:

- Federal Environment Agency, biogas plants must become safer and lower in emissions, May 27, 2019: https: //www.umweltbundesamt.de/themen/biogasanlagen-muessen-sicherheiter-emissionsaermer

- Federal Environment Agency, biogas plants: Safety aspects and environmental impacts, May 2019: https://www.umweltbundesamt.de/publikationen/biogasanlagen-sicherheitstechnische-aspekte and https://www.umweltbundesamt.de/sites/default/files/medien/376 /publikationen/2019_04_10_uba_hg_biogasanlagen_bf_300dpi.pdf

- Bavarian broadcasting, safety risk biogas plants? Dozens of accidents since 2017, May 2nd, 2019: https: //www.br.de/nachrichten/bayern/sicherheitsais-biogasanlagen-58-biogasunfaelle-seit-2017,RPFelS3

- Bayerischer Rundfunk, Manipulated biogas plant causes fish deaths in the Isen, April 10th, 2019: https: //www.br.de/nachrichten/bayern/fischsterben-in-der-isen-wohl-durch-manipulierte-biogasanlage,RNEuco0

- Federal Environment Agency, accidents with substances hazardous to water, 8.3.2019: https: //www.umweltbundesamt.de/daten/umwelt-wirtschaft/industrie/unfaelle-wassergefaehrdenden-stoffen#textpart-1

- Bayerischer Rundfunk, Up to 1,000 cubic meters of liquid manure ran into the Große Laaber, March 15, 2019:

https://www.br.de/nachrichten/bayern/bis-zu-1-000-kubikmeter-guelle-in-die-grosse-laaber-gelaufen,RKgmChT

- Mediengruppe Kreiszeitung, fire on biogas plant in Bruchhausen-Vilsen, October 22, 2018: https: //www.youtube.com/watch? V = 6i-gWcGh-0M

- SHZ.de, slurry accident in biogas plant: 5000 cubic meters of slurry threaten to leak, January 15, 2018:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dRKFpo-HCeE

- Phoenix 45min report, biogas dispute - gold rush on the field, April 25, 2013: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4X_NcIpXIcs