History of Biogas Technology
The Italian Volta collected marsh gas and investigated its burning behavior.
Avogadro identified methane (CH4 ).
Propoff states that biogas is produced under anaerobic conditions.
Pasteur researched on biogas from animal residues. He proposed the utilization
of horse litter to produce biogas for street-lighting.
First anaerobic wastewater-treatment plant in Germany.
First anaerobic digester with heating facility.
First German sewage plant to feed the collected biogas into the public gas supply
Addition of organic residues (fat) to increase sewage gas production.
Research demonstrates that the dung of one cow can give a hundred times more
gas than the feces of one urban inhabitant.
Establishment of the first working group on biogas in Germany.
Installation of the first larger agricultural biogas plant.
Nearly 50 biogas plants are built, fed by litter mixed with water and dung. Low oil
prices and technical problems lead to the shutdown of all but two plants.
After the first ’energy crisis’, increased promotion of research on and
implementation of agricultural biogas technology by the EC and federal
75 biogas plants are listed (built or planned). Biogas slurry is increasingly used as
Progress due to guaranteed prices for biogas-generated electricity. Progress in
optimizing the mixture of substrates, the use of biogas for different purposes and
Foundation of the German biogas association ’Fachverband Biogas’
More than 400 agricultural biogas plants exist in Germany.
China and India
The history of biogas exploration and utilization in China covers a period of more than 50
years. First biogas plants were build in the 1940s by prosperous families. Since the 1970s
biogas research and technology were developed at a high speed and biogas technology was
promoted vigorously by the Chinese government. In rural areas, more than 5 million small
biogas digesters have been constructed and,currently, over 20 million persons use biogas
currently as a fuel.
In India, the development of simple biogas plants for rural households started in the 1950s. A
massive increase in the number of biogas plants took place in the 1970s through strong
government backing. Meanwhile, more than one million biogas plants exist in India.
The historical experiences in Germany, China and India demonstrate clearly, how biogas
development responds to favorable frame conditions. In Germany, biogas dissemination
gained momentum through the need for alternative energy sources in a war-torn economy
and during an energy crisis or later by the change of electricity pricing. In India and China it
was a strong government program that furthered the mass dissemination of biogas
German promotion of biogas technology in the south
In the late 1970’s, triggered by Schuhmacher’s ’Small is Beautiful’, appropriate, simple
technologies entered the arena of development work in the South. Not Northern high-tech,
but innovative, affordable, simple and traditional technologies, it was believed, were the