Founded in 1995, focusing initially on wind energy, r.e Bioenergie first entered into the biogas business approximately 12 years ago. In recent years this energy sector has become the single focal point of a company that is today recognised as one of Europe’s leading biogas project developers, one that has particular expertise in carrying out large, sophisticated heat use concept and gas-to-grid projects. In addition, r.e Bioenergie has become a pioneer in the use of biomethane, thanks in no small part to the building of Germany’s first full-scale industrial biomethane plant, located close to Munich airport, at a cost of ten million euros.
“At present r.e Bioenergie is present within Germany, Poland and Hungary, however it does have intentions to gradually expand into other countries,comnamely Romania, Slovakia, France and the UK,” states managing director, Torsten Warmbold. “Rather than being dependant upon technology, the company has managed to differentiate itself over the years by selecting the most suitable technologies to use on each individual task in its role as a project manager and general contractor. What also makes r.e Bioenergie a leader in its field is the degree of know-how it possesses when it comes to owning and operating biogas plants.”
Further to these strong qualities, r.e Bioenergie finds itself in the enviable position of being supported by its financially strong mother company, BayWa AG. Floating on the German Stock Exchange MDax, BayWa AG is one of Europe’s largest sellers of agricultural products and services, and was responsible for the establishing of its subsidiary BayWa r.e GmbH, of which r. e Bioenergie forms an integral part. Being a state-of-the-art service provider in the renewable energy sector, BayWa r.e offers professional operators and investors integrated system solutions through to the operational management of wind parks, photovoltaic systems and biogas plants.
“A core area of r.e Bioenergie’s activities at this point in its existence involves working with technology providers to optimise biogas and biomethane plants,” Torsten continues. “There are a number of ways that the company is able to look at this market sector to determine how to optimise the use of the energy created by biogas. One of the company’s flagship references can be found in Hungary, where, despite numerous financial and legal challenges, it has been able to construct the country’s largest biogas plant in Szarvas, close to the Romanian border. Built up steadily over the course of five years, the commissioning of the plant started July last year and it began receiving income for the energy it creates for the first time in September.
“The last year has also seen the company complete the construction of a new, ultra-modern facility dubbed Holleben II, in Sachsen-Anhalt, Germany. Located next to the Holleben I conventional heat and electricity production plant, this completely independent facility feeds purified biomethane directly into the gas grid, servicing the heating demands of approximately 3000 single-family homes.”
It is the company’s home market of Germany that is also providing it with the chance to make waves by entering another field of expertise called re-powering: “This specialist industry sector is one that only really exists in mature biogas markets, where there are existing plants ranging in age from between five and ten years that are in need of modernisation,” Torsten explains. “What r.e Bioenergie is able to do is take on work on behalf of, or in partnership with, plant investors to re-power the facility in question, bringing it back up to speed and to present-day standards. Obviously this re-powering work doesn’t exist at present in countries like France and the UK, but unquestionably it will become more and more prominent in these places as we near the end of the decade.”
A sustainable European expansion is clearly one of r.e Bioenergie’s long-term goals, with the company envisioning a future where biogas and biomethane energy is traded across the continent once a certain level of certification has been reached: “Being a predominant fixture in such a market is obviously a target for the company, however in the short-term its focus is on reducing costs, while also increasing efficiency,” Torsten highlights.
“Although solar and wind power obviously possess a number of environmental benefits and become more and more important for the energy supply, they both lack the flexibility and the ability to be as easily stored as biogas or biomethane. Nevertheless, even as this industry expands, it is of course true that biogas in itself will not turn out to be the renewable answer that will solve all of mankind’s energy problems. What it has already proven to be however is a wonderful addition to the world’s energy mix, one which could feasibly go on to provide up to ten per cent of a country’s energy supply needs, making it very much a part of the solution,” Torsten concludes.