Economic analysis of anaerobic digestion

A case of Green power biogas plant in The Netherlands

One of the key concerns of biogas plants is the disposal of comparatively large amounts of digestates in an economically and environmentally sustainable manner.

This paper analyses the economic performance of anaerobic digestion of a given biogas plant based on net present value (NPV) and internal rate of return (IRR) concepts. A scenario analysis is carried out based on a linear programming model to identify feedstocks that optimize electricity production and to determine the optimal application of digestate. In addition to a default scenario, management and policy scenarios were investigated.

Economic evaluations of all scenarios, except no subsidy scenario, show positive NPV. The highest NPV and IRR values are observed under reverse osmosis (RO) as a green fertilizer scenario. Our findings show that treating RO as a green fertilizer, as opposed to manure (default scenario), is not only lucrative for the plant but also lessens environmental burden of long distance transportation of concentrates.

This paper also concludes that given the uncertainty of regulations concerning RO and the currently low values of digestate and heat, high investment and operating costs limit feasibility of anaerobic digestion of wastes of farm origin and other co-substrates unless subsidies are provided.

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