BD Agro constructs Russian biogas plant

By BD Agro Renewables | October 30, 2012

For Russia, the biogas technology can be a means to become more independent from the fossil fuels gas and oil. The agricultural region Belgorod, 700 kilometers (435 miles) south of Moscow, is aiming for this independence. The biogas company BD Agro Renewables, based in Calveslage, Germany, has initiated operation of one of the first biogas plants in Russia in the region. The plant generates 2.4 MW of electricity and is thus one of the largest plants in the Russian Federation. To achieve 2.4 MW of power production, the plant is supplied with 80 metric tons of maize silage, 80 cubic meters of slurry and 45 metric tons of slaughterhouse waste every day. Each year, 19 million kWh of power are generated and 10,000 households can be supplied with this power.

The biogas plant, a model project for operator AltEnergo, was built in nine months and 40 kilometers outside of the city of Belgorod with its 350,000 inhabitants. "This marks the birth of the bioenergy sector in Russia", said Vevgeny Savchenko, the governor of Belgorod oblast, when opening the plant.

In the next few years, AltEnergo plans to build about 150 additional biogas plants in the region. The plants shall supply power for farms in future, especially in the parts of the country that are mainly characterized by agriculture. These farms will then be able to operate self-sufficiently without relying on oil and gas. "BD Agro is already looking into interesting follow-up orders and we feel that we are positioned well for the future", announces BD Agro manager Hermann Gößling,

Belgorod is one of these regions characterized by agriculture with many livestock farmers. Due to this, the plant cannot only be supplied with renewable resources but also with slaughterhouse waste and slurry.

"Biogas is the ideal energy source for Russia," Gößling said. Contrarily to Germany, the vast country between the Ural and the Pacific Ocean with its large areas of arable land with fertile soil has all the room necessary to grow renewable resources. There is no competition for land like in Germany. Moreover, slurry, chicken manure and slaughterhouse waste, which would have been produced in any case, are sensibly exploited. According to a prediction from Russian experts, 150,000 gigawatts of electricity may be generated by biogas. This matches the power output of about 100 nuclear power stations.

BD Agro planned and built the plant as general contractor in cooperation with German companies. For the six-year-old company, this was the biggest project ever carried out outside of Germany. Nearly 40 lorries delivered material to Russia. Led by German chief fitters, the biogas plant was erected with the help of local installation workers. While the plant was being built, BD Agro trained future employees in similar plants in Germany.

The biogas plant comprises four digesters, two of which are tall fermenters. The digesters are 15 meters tall and provide ideal conditions for the fermentation process, as project planner Matthias Haller explains.

The Russian state does not as of yet subsidize renewable energy, in contrast to Germany, BD Agromanager Gößling says. This means that each biogas plant operator either needs to conclude an agreement with the energy suppliers regarding the power supply into the public grid or to use the generated electricity itself.