SPEAKER COMMENT – “We have come a long way from simple farm-scale biogas plants”

Torsten Fischer has been active in the biogas sector for more than 30 years. In 1999, together with Andreas Krieg, he founded Krieg & Fischer Ingenieure, an engineering company that provides tailor-made solutions for biogas plants to clients all over the world.

Most of the company’s plants are located in Germany, but it has extensive experience in dealing with projects all over Europe, North and South America, and Asia.

“Having been part of the biogas industry and managing director of Krieg & Fischer Ingenieure for this long, I can say that we have come a long way from simple farm-scale biogas plants for fermenting agricultural waste 30 years ago, to biogas plants for industrial bio-waste and large-scale co-fermentation biogas plants, from boilers and cogeneration units to biomethane and power to gas,” said Fischer.

“As an illustration, the digester volume located on plants designed by us ranges from 50 m³ to 22,000 m³ and the CHP size from 27 kW to 8.4 MW electrical power.

“In these challenging times, I look positively at the development of the biogas industry. The biogas sector had a slow recovery from the 2008 crisis. The COVID-19 pandemic is transforming our everyday lives and our businesses differently, emphasising the importance of health and the environment. I expect a more positive scenario for our industry after the pandemic.

“In all circumstances, biogas plants should be properly designed and safe. Safety has always been one of the pillars of our approach and I have been an expert witness in the field of biogas, writing expert reports for courts, insurance companies and banks for 15 years. I am happy to share my experiences and discuss common deficiencies in biogas plants at the International Biogas Congress & Expo.

There have been ongoing accidents on biogas plants since I started to participate in this business back in the 1990s. Although there has been a sharp increase in safety requirements, we keep witnessing a steady stream of such accidents. Then again, for insurance companies or biogas organisations, there is not enough information available that discloses a proper statistical background on all such accidents.

“Ahead of my talk at the International Biogas Congress & Expo, I have scrutinised the reports I wrote over the past 15 years and want to show where in the biogas plants most accidents take place. In addition, I will select two accidents that will show that there is never a single source that accounts for an accident but a complex situation finally led to the breakdown.

“Of course, my own experience may not be perfectly identical to everyone else’s experience. However, it may give the audience an insight into the complexity of biogas plant engineering, construction, and operation.

“The challenges range from the selection of the most useful process technology to the choice which digester tank fits best to the given input substrate to the selection of the most suitable equipment. All this needs to be operated on a high level to achieve the best results for the investment. Often enough, I could see in the past that mistakes at the very first steps of the project that nobody realised them, and finally, often years later, I will investigate potential causes of an accident. My talk will try to open the eyes of the audience to understand the complex background of a professional biogas plant operation.”

If you want to find out more about biogas plant engineering, construction, and safety, Torsten Fischer will be speaking at this year’s International Biogas Congress & Expo on 19-20 October. For more information, visit: https://www.bioenergy-news.com/conference/biogas/biogas_index_2021.php

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