Since the construction of the biogas plant, Mr. Strese has faced a new challenge every day. With a capacity utilization of more than 97%, it has proven that it masters them all.

Among the agricultural businesses in Thuringia, the Pfiffelbach Agricultural Society is already one of the larger ones. Here in the beautiful Weimar region, 85 employees work on the keeping of 900 dairy cows, the rearing of 1600 sows and the cultivation of the surrounding 5000 hectares of agricultural land.

When the EEG was passed in 2004 and a future for biogas emerged, farmers like Gunther Seidel began to think. There were enough animal excrements in his enterprise and with a biogas plant an additional constant source of income for the agricultural society could be created with inexpensive substrate employment. Milk prices were poor then as they are now, so it was necessary to take advantage of the opportunities offered by the EEG.

MT Energie from Zeven, one of the pioneers in biogas plant construction, was commissioned to build a plant with a fermenter and a secondary fermenter each with a volume of 2800 m³ and a gas-tight repository.

This plant has been in operation for 10 years now and from the EEG’s point of view the half-time has been reached. A good time to take stock. “We can be more than satisfied with a capacity utilization of over 97%,” summarizes Gunther Seidel for the last 10 years. “The primary recycling of our residues from animal husbandry has been our philosophy right from the start. We then successfully implemented this with a cattle manure content of over 80 %. We also use 5 % grass silage and 10-15 % maize,” Seidel explains the other feedstocks. “The workload was not always as good as it is today. With the MWM engines there were initially many smaller difficulties. Only through a service contract with MWM in Erfurt did we achieve decisive improvements by setting the maintenance intervals at 1500 hours,” recalls the likeable farmer.

Successful biogas plants are characterised by high availability and a successful heating network. So also in Pfiffelbach! Here, the heat generated by the combined heat and power plants is naturally used to heat the fermenters, but piglet breeding, service water for cleaning milking equipment, office and social rooms and grain drying are also supplied from this heat network.

The continuous improvement of the company is close to Gunther Seidel’s heart. Increasing biological and energetic efficiency is important to him, because it is not only about managing a business, but also about getting better every day. In Pfiffelbach, for example, the company cooperates with ATB Potsdam and the German Biomass Research Centre (DBFZ) in the field of optimal energetic utilization of the input substrates of a biogas plant.

The second half of the EEG will begin no later than 2018. It is not yet planned to make the plant more flexible, although here in Pfiffelbach the requirements of the EEG 2017 for a small proportion of maize in the substrate will be met as an example.