In Germany, there are currently about 160 feed-in plants in operation, with 15 projects planned or under construction, 119 biogas filling stations are in operation and a further 170 filling stations (approximately) offer a blend of biomethane and natural gas. Currently about 100,000 CNG/CBG vehicles are in operation which are potential biomethane customers.
After being Europe‘s most evolving market since 2007, the market for biomethane in Germany is now stagnating on a high level. The reason is that the feed-in tariffs for electricity production lowered with the Renewable Energy Sources Act (EEG 2014) last year. Current biomethane production will continue for the duration of the feed-in tariff grant (20 years). However, much project planning is on hold because the other markets (the heating and fuel sectors) are growing slowly and are therefore seen as risky investments.
Within the combined heat and power (CHP) sector, there is rarely sufficient compensation according to the Renewable Energy Sources Act. As for the heating market, except for the state of Baden-Württemberg, individual heating applications are hardly subsidized. However, there are several opportunities to receive a certain biomethane content in the natural gas supply at the household level.
The fuel sector is also facing challenges, such as stagnating CNG vehicles sales, a new CO2-quota regime, which has brought about a number of risks and uncertainties, and, lastly, a lack of transparency at fuelling station totems.
In terms of international trade, there are prohibitive national regulations and a lack of an EU-wide system to provide balance.
There is significant substrate potential beyond energy crops, for example, with organic household waste and manure. The future role of biomethane in the electricity sector will be to provide flexibility to the system, giving alternatives to wind and solar energy.
The fuel sector holds an enormous potential, but this would require a political commitment. The independence of sources of foreign gas could become a more important issue for the EU. The next reform of the Renewable Energy Sources Act is coming up in 2016. Auctions are going to be introduced for all renewables by 2016. The government is currently revising the electricity market system as a whole and has announced to make major changes to the current design by 2016. CHP-legislation is being revised, possibly bringing new momentum regarding CO2-saving and opportunities for biomethane. The THG-quota in the fuel sector is to be implemented and assessed. International barriers need to be addressed in order to provide market uptake.