That is the question for biogas plants.
Although biogas plants are not confronted with the very dramatic question of to be or not to be that Shakespeare's Hamlet poses, the events of the past year certainly had the potential to pose an existential threat.
The discussions about retroactive profit levies, coupled with price increases in the fuel sector, have really put a damper on the future prospects of many a plant operator.
Where investments were supposed to take place - investments on which the energy transition depends - a lack of planning certainty and a lack of confidence have spread. Flexible biogas plants are among the types of power plants that are most likely to be able to replace the flexible electricity generation of gas-fired power plants. From the point of view of the electricity system, they fulfil the same purpose - they step in when wind and sun cannot provide enough energy. This function is not only essential for security of supply, but also for grid security.
In this respect, the further flexibilisation of the biogas sector must not be slowed down, but rather promoted to the maximum. To this end, confidence in the continuation of an investment-friendly framework and the guarantee of sufficiently long planning horizons are essential. This is exactly what the discussions about retroactive profit skimming in the biogas sector have failed to create and have also disturbed the operators' trust in the state.
Fortunately, policymakers have largely recognised the value of flexible biogas plants and exempted most plants from the skimming of profits from flexible driving - but not all.
However, efforts to further incentivise flexibilisation in all sectors are increasingly evident in the political actions of the governing parties.
Even though market activity has normalised so far and prices on the power exchange have fallen, the strong volatility has remained in the market, as the price fluctuations reflect the accelerated expansion of the wind and photovoltaic segment. If - contrary to the forecast - available renewables are offered to the market in the short term, market prices fall. In the case of low availability, prices rise. These fluctuations are a major challenge for supply security and grid stability.At the same time, they form a hurdle for energy-intensive companies to demand more renewables, as they contrast with the planning certainty for the production of their products.
Here, flexible biogas plants form an important bridge to the successful completion of the energy transition. In perspective, this importance increases with the increasing expansion of renewables and the progressive phase-out of conventional producers. Therefore, the flexibilisation of biogas plants and their further development into a storage system are of great importance.