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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2022

The CO2 cutting cost of biogas from humanure and livestock manure

Agar, David A.; Athanassiadis, Dimitris; Pavelka, Bela J.


The European Union is accelerating its rollout of sustainable energy production and promotion of a circular economy. Electricity from biogas has synergy with energy-policy and rural-development goals yet its economic value is often convoluted. This study assessed the economic potential of biogas electricity using a representative rural case and quantified the cost and level of state support required for viability. The cost of CO2-equivalent emission reductions was determined using the recast Renewable Energy Directive (RED II). The results showed that a feed-in tariff of 0.33 € kWh−1 for green electricity was required for economic feasibility. This yielded a CO2 cutting cost of 251 € t−1. The methane energy potential was 78 467 kWh a−1 from 31 498 kg (dry mass) of substrates, 80% livestock manure and humanure and 20% plant-based. Circular use of the digestate from anaerobic digestion, enabled a nitrogen recovery potential of 1 575 kg a−1. The conclusions reached are that the economic value of the avoided emissions, through the RED II framework, is significant but it does not substantially improve the cost-effectiveness of biogas as an emission-mitigation technology. For biogas plant capacities less than 500 kW, current EU feed-in tariffs do not support economic viability.


Renewable energy directive; Feed-in tariff; Anaerobic digestion; Night soil; Rural development; Energy policy

Published in

Sustainable energy technologies and assessments
2022, Volume: 53, number: Part A, article number: 102381