Environmental Sustainability and Economic Benefits of Dairy Farm Biogas Energy Production: A Case Study in Umbria

Torquati, Biancamaria; Venanzi, Sonia; Ciani, Adriano; Diotallevi, Francesco; Tamburi, Vincenzo
October 2014
Sustainability (2071-1050);Oct2014, Vol. 6 Issue 10, p6696
Academic Journal
Case Study
Accelerating demand to reduce the environmental impact of fossil fuels has been driving widespread attention to renewable fuels, such as biogas. In fact, in the last decade numerous policy guidelines and laws regarding energy, the environment and agriculture have been issued to encourage the use of animal sewage as a raw material for the production of biogas. The production of energy from biogas in a dairy farm can provide a good opportunity for sustainable rural development, augmenting the farm's income from traditional sources and helping to reduce the overall environmental impact of the energy sector. This paper investigates the trade-off between the environmental and economic benefits of an agro-energy farm in the Umbria region of Italy that employs livestock sewage and manure, dedicated energy crops (corn and triticale silage) and olive waste. The environmental analysis was performed using the LCA methodology, while the economic investigation was carried out by reconstructing the economic balance of the agro-energetic supply chain based on the budgets of each activity performed. The LCA results show, on the one hand, the predominant weight of producing dedicated crops compared to all other processes in the supply chain and, on the other hand, a significant reduction in environmental impact compared to that caused by energy production from fossil fuels. Economic analysis revealed that the results depend significantly on what rate per kWh the government incentives guarantee to agricultural producers of renewable energy.


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