Practical examples

Agrokraft GmbH is a subsidiary of the Bavarian Farmers’ Association Rhön-Grabfeld. As a service provider and project developer in rural areas, Agrokraft is dedicated to the task of developing new income opportunities for regional agriculture. To this end, it supports cooperative projects in the field of renewable energies from photovoltaics to biogas, helps to implement new value chains in food production, and promotes village and regional development with enthusiasm.

It also helps to establish and manage independent companies, in particular cooperatives and biogas plants. Special flagship projects, in which Agrokraft is involved, include several bioenergy villages, the elderberry production for a lemonade producer and the joint production and processing of premium hazelnuts.

In all cases, joint projects were and are implemented with the participation of numerous farmers, these project implementations would not have been feasible for an individual farm alone – according to the Raiffeisen motto “What the individual cannot do, many can do”.

The “Biofabrik Gruppe” develops and markets technologies for the sustainable management of energy, nutrition and waste related issues. The aim is to reduce the extraction of fossil raw materials and develop profitable business models. One technological approach is the “Green Refinery”, a biorefinery that provides various products based on grass silage – fertilizers, dietary supplements and chemical raw materials.

In this way, new markets can be accessed for the utilisation of grass silage. The plant is designed as a modular addition to existing biogas plants and can therefore also serve to expand the existing biogas plants in Germany as an important pillar of the energy revolution by implementing a new value-adding stage.

The company’s goal is to build a three-digit number of biogas plants in Germany and around the world.

BIOWERT Industrie GmbH operates a biorefinery in Brensbach (Odenwald) which produces insulation materials, natural fibre reinforced plastics and energy using grass silage as the basis. The grass fibres obtained substitute fossil-based products in both, insulation material for the energy efficient renovation of buildings and in the production of plastic composites.

The resulting grass juice is converted into energy in a biogas plant, which is used, among other things, for the refinery process. The BIOWERT process thus offers the opportunity to maintain permanent grassland in the long term even in regions with declining animal husbandry, and at the same time to manufacture climate-friendly products from grass.

Creapaper GmbH from Hennef an der Sieg has developed a patented process to produce an alternativ raw material for the paper industry from hay. The grass fibre pellets produced can replace both, waste paper and cardboard and fresh fibre pulp, by up to 50% in various cardboard and paper products. For example, grass fibres can be used instead of waste paper for the production of food packaging.

Possible problems caused by waste paper used in food packaging, such as mineral oil migration, can thus partially be solved. In the case of packaging made from virgin fibre pulp (trees), the use of grass fibres leads to a significantly improved carbon footprint. The raw material usage of hay from compensation areas means that economic utilisation also helps to support the maintenance of large, connected conservation-areas and biosphere reserves.

The Gesellschaft für nachhaltige Stoffnutzung mbH (GNS) develops chemical process-engineering solutions for the sustainable use of natural resources. The so-called FaserPlus process makes it possible to produce valuable materials, such as lime and ammonium fertilizers as well as fibres, from the residues of biogas production.for the wood-based material industry

While the extraction of nutrients from the fermentation residues offers the possibility to export nitrogen especially from regions with nutrient surpluses, the extracted fibres can be used in the production of chipboard or laminate and thus, contribute to the relief of timber markets.

GNS’s processing technology, which is particularly suitable for larger agricultural or commercial biogas plants, can open up new income opportunities for plant operators in addition to the generation of electricity and heat.

Pahren Agrar Kooperation is an association of modern food crop production and processing companies, energy producers and companies from upstream and downstream sectors in the catchment area of the Zeulenroda dam in the Greiz district of eastern Thuringia. Twenty independent companies have decided on to take part in this cooperation in order to achieve economic, social, ecological and regional political advantages.

The aim of the cooperation is to exploit synergy effects and efficiently bundle central functions in order to secure livelihoods. The cooperation preserves and creates local jobs so that new perspectives for the region can be developed sustainably. The shareholders involved see themselves not only as farmers, but also as energy farmers. Pahren Agrar Kooperation has already implemented numerous solar projects and two biogas plants for this purpose.

The range of services also includes the trading of agricultural raw materials and final products. The material use of biomass also plays an important role in Pahren. With VOFA Vogtlandfaser GmbH & Co. KG there is an independent company within the cooperation that specialises in the production of hemp fibres and hemp hurds. When the last hemp processor in the Greiz district ceased production, the cooperation, which had already gathered several years of experience in the cultivation of hemp, took over the plants and set up a new hemp digestion plant at the Läwitz site. In the following years the further adaptation of the digestion plant and the optimisation of the plant control took place. Since 2010 the hemp cultivated by the cooperation has been processed into hemp fibres and hemp hurds in Läwitz.

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