Energy Pioneers

“When our biogas power plant was under construction, people wondered why we were installing 4 MW CHPs but only kept the motors running for a few hours a day,”,” says Onno Wilberts while pointing at the three combined heat and power (CHP) units at the biogas power plant he operates with Guido Koch. “There was still a lot of educating to be done.” In 2011 Wilberts and Koch were pioneers in the German biogas industry. Their objective: A biogas power plant that can help stabilize grid frequency and follow a peak-load operation schedule that is tied to the price of power.

“To put our plan into action, we needed a reliable market partner who could place the flexibility of our power plant on the electricity market,” Koch recalls. “Next Kraftwerke offered the competence we were looking for. We especially value the close cooperation and excellent support they provide.” Today, the power plant is controlled via a remote control unit, and its power production is shifted up and down as often as 20 times a day. The power plant can be controlled in 15-minute increments based on current prices on the spot market. The transmission grid operators benefit from valuable control reserve. The power plant offers an average electric capacity of 1.2 MW, while the installed capacity is nearly 4 MW. Additionally, the power plant’s storage encompasses 14,000 m3. With the power plant’s immense flexibility, it can help compensate wind and solar fluctuations.

The input material is just as versatile as the power production itself: Wilberts and Koch use a mixture of manure, chaff and corn. The power plant also adjusts to seasonal conditions by producing more or less power based on the amount of silage. “Through operation that is tied to the price of power, and the flexibility of the power plant itself, we can achieve the highest profits. We decide how much power to produce based on the electricity prices and the substrate prices.” In addition to the price-led power production, the flexibility of the power plant is an advantage when it comes to repair or maintenance work. The turnout time can be compensated later without impacting earnings.