Weltec Biopower builds biogas plant in Switzerland

By Erin Voegele | July 19, 2012

Germany-based Weltec Biopower GmbH is building a 370 kW biogas plant in Bure, Switzerland for Bio.Etique.Energy SA. According to the company, the facility’s power will be fed into the grid, while surplus heat will be used to heat local training barracks for the Swiss Army. Weltec noted in the announcement that the plant is scheduled to begin operations in November, and will ultimately feed 3 GWh per year into the power grid. Excess heat of 2.6 GWh per year will be supplied to the barracks, which can host up to 1,400 trainees.

The facility will take in agricultural waste as feedstock, including liquid manure, dung, green waste and grain waste. According to Weltec, the plant will make use of wet fermentation. This technology is especially suitable for the utilization of heterogeneous wastes and does not require any additives, said the company in a statement.

The plant will feature a 3,994 cubic meter fermenter, a 45 cubic meter solid matter dosing feeder, and a gas-tight storage unit with a capacity of 4,078 cubic meters that will be used to store the digestate.

Information posted to Weltec’s website notes that its biogas plants are made from stainless steel, which ensures a long service life for the system. The systems also have a modular design, which the company noted allows for individual and flexible solutions that range from compact systems to computer-aided biogas systems in the megawatt range.

According to information released by Weltec, energy forecasts have shown that Switzerland could generate about 4.5 percent of its power needs and 5 percent of its heat requirements from biogas.  In addition, the company estimates that approximately 500,000 vehicles within in the country could be fueled with biogas, assuming annual mileage of 15,000 kilometers (9,320 miles) per year.

Weltec  estimates that Swiss agriculture currently generates about 20 million metric tons of liquid manure, dung, organic waste and crop residues per year. The new biogas plant will take in approximately 1.5 percent of that amount.