Review German Biochar Forum 2023

The German Biochar Forum in Berlin drew a broad audience even in its new format.

The presentations and panel discussions shed light on the diverse applications of biochar. For instance, Gion Willi from the company Inkoh highlighted how their biochar is incorporated and processed in climate-neutral concrete (KLARK).

Legal frameworks were also addressed. Helmut Gerber from PYREG impressively demonstrated that the application of phosphorus carbonisates from sewage sludge as fertilizer must urgently be permitted in Germany. Secure implementation and thus closing nutrient cycles is already feasible and sensible today and permitted in many other EU countries such as Denmark, the Czech Republic, Sweden and, more recently, Finland.

From all the discussions and presentations, we have assimilated the following: 

  1. Hansjörg Lerchenmüller from EBI impressively illustrated the current state of the biochar market in Europe and particularly in Germany: "BCR is today’s most relevant industrial carbon removal technology, at the same time, it is far away from being climate-relevant today." To achieve the targeted 25 megatons of carbon sinks by 2040 in Germany, carbon sinks would need to achieve an average growth rate of 48% per year! As a comparison, PV systems, which have seen an annual growth rate of 38% on average since 2005, were considered.
    Our take-home: It is a long road ahead, and it requires the collaboration of all – producers, users, and policymakers
  2. Several presentations made one thing clear: the potential lies in biochar and renewable energy.
    The pyrolysis of biomass not only produces biochar but also renewable energy. The potential for renewable energy, especially heat, is not yet fully tapped in Germany – district heating networks and industries are potential stakeholders.
    Our take-home: The heat generation from biomass and biochar production should not compete but rather jointly pave the way. 
  3. Planning and Approval Procedures Guide
    Thomas Hoffmann - Decarbo-Engineering GmbH, and Kevin Friedrich - Björnsen Beratende Ingenieure, impressively demonstrated in their presentations that there is much to consider. The overall system is crucial for the successful planning of a pyrolysis plant. However, planning alone does not build a facility – countless documents and aspects must be considered in the approval process.
    Our take-home:
    Stakeholders must collaborate to develop processes and support, thereby improving quality and potentially speeding up procedures.