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Energies 2015, 8(6), 5234-5265;

Environmentally Sustainable Biogas? The Key Role of Manure Co-Digestion with Energy Crops

European Commission, Joint Research Centre (JRC), Institute for Energy and Transport (IET), Sustainable Transport Unit, Westerduinweg 3, 1755LE Petten, The Netherlands
ENEA–Italian National Agency for New Technologies, Energy and the Environment, Via Anguillarese 301, 00061 Rome, Italy
Institute of Agronomy, Genetics and Field crops, Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, 29122 Piacenza, Italy
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Thomas E. Amidon
Received: 25 March 2015 / Accepted: 27 May 2015 / Published: 3 June 2015
(This article belongs to the Collection Bioenergy and Biofuel)
Full-Text   |   PDF [1623 KB, uploaded 3 June 2015]   |  


We analysed the environmental impacts of three biogas systems based on dairy manure, sorghum and maize. The geographical scope of the analysis is the Po valley, in Italy. The anaerobic digestion of manure guarantees high GHG (Green House Gases) savings thanks to the avoided emissions from the traditional storage and management of raw manure as organic fertiliser. GHG emissions for maize and sorghum-based systems, on the other hand, are similar to those of the Italian electricity mix. In crop-based systems, the plants with open-tank storage of digestate emit 50% more GHG than those with gas-tight tanks. In all the environmental impact categories analysed (acidification, particulate matter emissions, and eutrophication), energy crops based systems have much higher impacts than the Italian electricity mix. Maize-based systems cause higher impacts than sorghum, due to more intensive cultivation. Manure-based pathways have always lower impacts than the energy crops based pathways, however, all biogas systems cause much higher impacts than the current Italian electricity mix. We conclude that manure digestion is the most efficient way to reduce GHG emissions; although there are trade-offs with other local environmental impacts. Biogas production from crops; although not providing environmental benefits per se; may be regarded as an option to facilitate the deployment of manure digestion. View Full-Text
Keywords: maize; manure; sorghum; biogas; GHG emissions; environmental impacts maize; manure; sorghum; biogas; GHG emissions; environmental impacts

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Agostini, A.; Battini, F.; Giuntoli, J.; Tabaglio, V.; Padella, M.; Baxter, D.; Marelli, L.; Amaducci, S. Environmentally Sustainable Biogas? The Key Role of Manure Co-Digestion with Energy Crops. Energies 2015, 8, 5234-5265.

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