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Biogas - an area with great unexploited potential

Biogas belongs within a complete natural cycle, but it has been difficult to make biogas projects profitable. The Royal Norwegian Society for Development wishes to contribute to changing this and amongst other things has become involved on the research front.

Project background

The Norwegian Ministry of Agriculture and Food has a goal that by the year 2020, 30 percent of all animal manure should be treated in biogas plants. If this is to be accomplished, Norwegian agriculture faces a development of biogas plants. Against this background the Royal Norwegian Society for Development, financed through the Norwegian Agricultural Authority, has carried out the "farm-based biogas" project; a study to assess the possibilities offered by biogas in four cooperatives.

About the project

Most Norwegian farms are relatively small. This is used as an explanation for the small number of farm-based biogas plants in Norway. A smaller biogas plant will normally demand a higher investment per energy unit produced than is the case for a larger plant. In addition, a smaller plant will often be a greater challenge than a larger one in terms of skills, capacity and organisation. The reason is that a larger plant can have dedicated operatives. Nevertheless, there is potential for energy from biogas even from smaller and medium-sized plants based on waste products from livestock.

Our contribution and role

  • Assessing the profitability of biogas plants in specific cooperatives
  • Charting the potential  of the raw materials for biogas production in the specific cooperatives
  • Feasability studies in respect of biogas sales both to the farms and externally
  • Organising possibilities of collaborative solutions between farms

Results

The project indicated that in today’s situation it is not profitable for cooperatives to invest in biogas plants.  In order to improve the profitability of farm-based biogas plants, the costs in relation to building the plants will need to be reduced as too little energy is currently produced to make them profitable. In addition, the biogas needs to be used for purposes that will offer a secure financial return. 

One solution is to create larger plants in which several cooperatives/farms collaborate to reduce the costs of the biogas plant. Profitability can also be increased by supplementing the cow manure with other materials offering a higher energy yield per unit of volume.

Contact us

Tore Filbakk, Senior advisor

Mobile: +47 920 59 224
Email: tore.filbakk@norgesvel.no

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Farm-based biogas production