Positive agricultural energy from manure and slurry

Methane emitted from the open storage of manure and slurry on farms is 28 times more harmful to the climate than CO₂. Biogas facilities offer a multi-functional climate mitigation solution, producing electricity, heat and fertiliser at the same time.

Biogas facilities play an important role in reducing methane, a greenhouse gas that is particularly prevalent in agriculture. “Agricultural Biogas Facilities”, the climate mitigation programme led by Ökostrom Schweiz, reduces methane emissions, and the KliK Foundation acquires reduction certificates, attestations for proven reductions, to ensure the financial viability of the facilities. Current figures forecast the 30 or so agricultural projects participating in the programme to reduce methane emissions by around 100,000 tonnes of CO₂ equivalents (CO₂e) by 2030. 

To shed light on the complex aspects of biogas facilities from different perspectives, the KliK Foundation held two discussions with experts in the field.

Fermentation of biomass
There are around 120 agricultural biogas facilities being operated in Switzerland. They have an anaerobic fermentation process, mainly using manure and slurry in a closed system called a digester. This process benefits the climate because the methane (CH₄) produced is then used to generate electricity, motor fuel and heat, which is environmentally friendly. The remaining solids, known as digestate or fermentation residue, are odourless and serve as a high-quality fertiliser.

Fabienne Thomas, Head of Policy at aeesuisse, the umbrella organisation of the Swiss economy, has been promoting renewable energy and energy efficiency for many years, including agricultural biogas facilities in Switzerland. In an interview with the KliK Foundation, Thomas provides a political perspective on the situation of biogas facilities. Recently, a biogas facility was installed on the farm of Georg and Kaspar Müller in Steckborn, with planning and construction process support from Ökostrom Schweiz. Victor Anspach, a member of the cooperative’s management team, looks at the legal framework and its practical implementation. He gives insights into the opportunities, risks and daily challenges of a biogas facility.