Biogas systems are complex and involve many local stakeholders who produce and utilize energy and digestate. If the systems are managed properly, they offer environmental and socioeconomic benefits to the community. However, further expansion may be challenging when differences in values and perspectives exist among stakeholders. This study analyzed perceptions among local biogas stakeholders by using a mental model approach. A local community in a northern Japanese island was chosen as a case study, and 22 stakeholders were asked to develop individual mental models of the biogas system. We found that many stakeholders shared the cognitive benefits of biogas, while there were perception differences regarding digestate use. Arable farmers mentioned technical and non-technical constraints for accepting digestate, while dairy and non-farmers were ambivalent about these demand-side constraints. This perception difference may lead to potential obstacles for future expansion of biogas systems in the region. Therefore, biogas policy should incorporate actions for better usage of digestate. These include the mandatory planning of digestate use when designing a new biogas plant, as well as actions to improve the attractiveness of digestate for arable farmers. These findings are useful for other livestock-intensive areas where the number of biogas plants is rapidly increasing but digestate management is yet organized.
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License
which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited