Study in Berlin Shows Biogas Potential of Fallen Leaves

November 2022

It’s part of the annual cycle of the seasons –trees losing their foliage. In Berlin, for example, sanitation services sweep up 36,000 tons leaves every year from city streets and parks. They’re usually composed, but a new study suggests this material could be put to better use.

The Leibniz Institute for Agrarian Technology Bioeconomy (ATB) says it would be more profitably to utilize leaves as biomass to produce biogas. To get derive the greatest amount of energy, leaves could be fermented in a biogas reactor and protected from rapid decay. The ATB estimates that fallen foliage in the German capital could cover the annual electricity needs of some 5000 Berliners.

“Foliage as a raw material for biogas production could contribute to some extent to energy supply in urban areas,” said Ulrich Kreidenweis, head of the ATB Bioeconomic Systems Modeling working group and co-author of the study, said on the institute’s website. “Whether the use of leaf litter from urban areas for biogas production is also economically viable would have to be clarified in further scenario assessments.”

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