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Kupferzell Agricultural Biogas Plant

Converting biomass to biogas is simple. Fill a digester with manure and rotten vegetables – just about any kind of biomass – seal it, and unleash trillions of methane-producing bacteria to convert worthless waste into valuable fuel.

The production of biogas is booming in Germany. The German Biogas Association projects that biogas will provide 17 percent of

the country’s electricity by 2020. While the conversion of biomass

to biogas is accessible and simple, the issue most farmers face is nding the best way to economically use the biogas that’s generated.

Farmer Thomas Karle, owner of the Kupferzell agricultural biogas plant in Germany, is putting waste to work.

Using Capstone Turbine Corporation’s MicroTurbine® technology, organic waste is turned to fertilizer that’s used by Kupferzell farms spanning more than 100 hectares (10.7 million square feet).

The biogas plant on Karle’s farm in Kupferzell, a town in the district of Hohenlohe in Baden-Würtemberg, opened in 2001. In

2007, the facility adopted microturbine technology and a sludge

drying system. At that time, two Capstone CR65 microturbines were commissioned and successfully converted pig and cow slurry, along with crop and food residues from Karle’s farm, into electricity and heat.

Two years later, the facility’s growing demand for electricity fueled the need to upgrade to a Capstone CR200. In July 2009, the updated combined heat and power (CHP) system was commissioned.

With Capstone’s microturbine technology, organic waste is converted to fertilizer that’s used by Kupferzell farms spanning more than 100 hectares (10.7 million square feet).

At a glance


Kupferzell, Germany


2007 – 2 CR65 Capstone microturbines 2009 – Upgraded to a CR200 microturbine




• Beginning in 2007, 2 Capstone CR65 microturbines converted biogas into heat and electricity onsite. In 2009 the plant upgraded to a CR200 microturbine.

• The CHP system allows the hot, low- emission exhaust air of the CR200 microturbine to ow directly into a dryer building to make high-quality natural fertilizer from fermentation residue.

• Operators use a biogas measurement device and a SCADA (Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition) system for accurate biogas ow measurement analysis,

both developed by Capstone German distributor Greenvironment.


• Each year, the Kupferzell plant is expected to produce 1,500MW of electricity and 2,800MW of heat.

• CO2 emissions avoided through the CHP system are 500 – 1160 kg CO2 per MW-hour.

• Under the Erneuerbare-Energien-Gesetz (EEG), the Kupferzell farm is guaranteed an electricity price for power supplied to the grid. In addition, the farm receives a technology bonus for using microturbine technology.

Photo courtesy of German Society for Sustainable Biogas and Bioenergy Utilisation (GERBIO)

Image | Agricultural Kupferzell Agricultural Biogas Plant

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