Regeneration in Germany

Germany expedites elimination of nuclear power and increases focus on biomass.
By Lisa Gibson | June 22, 2011

Following the devastating earthquake and tsunami in Japan, the world has kept a watchful eye on nuclear power. While some governments, including the Obama administration, maintain that the power source is necessary, others are beginning to erase it from their portfolios, few as quickly as Germany.
The country’s Environment Minister Norbert Roettgen wants to speed up Germany’s nuclear exit, focusing on early implementation of the 2010 Energy Strategy. The country aims to shut down all nuclear power stations by 2022, with only the three newest being permitted to operate that long.

Parallel to the gradual departure from nuclear power, the percentage of energy generated from renewables will rise consistently, according to the German government. The target is to raise the percentage from 17 to 35 percent in 2020. The government has already finalized a bill to reform the Renewable Energies law and the legislative agencies need to agree to it.

In light of that switch, solid-fuel handling equipment manufacturer Martin Engineering has increased its interest in the German market, says Jim Turner, vice president of sales and marketing for the company. “It’s driving the Germans to look at a lot of different ways of producing energy in the short and long term,” he says. “The power has to come from somewhere and they’re looking at biomass to be their No. 1 gap filler for power.”

The 2010 strategy includes reintroduction of support for low-emission woody biomass gasification boilers, with prerequisites for emission values. The country has support in place for pellet boilers and wood chip installations that remained unchanged in the 2010 strategy.

With an increasing adoption of biomass energy in the U.S. and Europe, Martin Engineering has investigated the intricacies of biomass handling systems, noting their differences with traditional fossil fuel handling systems, Turner says. That research is proving advantageous in a Germany that’s intent on more ecofriendly energy.