Biomass conference brings German, American companies together

By Ryan C. Christiansen
Attendance at the 4th German American Renewable Energy Conference in Syracuse, N.Y., which focused on forging partnerships between German bioenergy companies and American corporations and research facilities, was "overwhelming," according to Sebastian Göres, manager of consulting services for the German American Chamber of Commerce Inc. in New York.

Göres said planners expected 100 people to attend. However, 250 people registered to hear 14 speakers talk about the U.S. and German biomass markets and technologies.

Attendees from the nearby community of Auburn, N.Y., in particular, were interested in the case study about Jühnde, a village in Germany. According to a USDA report, Jühnde uses a biorefinery to process methane gas from cow manure and garden waste to produce more than its entire electricity consumption. In a 2004 referendum, residents of Auburn
created the Auburn Public Power Agency, which plans to use waste and manure from nearby dairy operations to produce electricity, according to the city's Web site.

In addition to the one-day conference, Göres said "the whole week was packed with meetings because the American companies that we contacted were highly interested," he said.

U.S. companies met with representatives from Bekon Energy Technologies GmbH & Co. KG, Biopower Renewable Energy Inc., EnviTec Biogas AG, EOil Automotive & Technologies GmbH, Lahmeyer International GmbH, Nörr Stiefenhofer Lutz, and Vikat Energiesysteme GmbH. The meetings were facilitated by the German American Chamber of Commerce in partnership with a group dubbed "The Green Team," which includes representatives from Syracuse area civic, governmental and educational institutions.

The conference was sponsored by the German Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology, and supported by the German Energy Agency and Ecofys Germany. "We would love to have another one [that focuses on biomass]," Göres said. "It was one of the most successful conferences we have had."