European Framework for the Diffusion of Biogas Uses: Emerging Technologies, Acceptance, Incentive Strategies, and Institutional-Regulatory Support
Biogas will constitute a significant fraction of future power supply, since it is expected to contribute a large share of the EU renewable energy targets. Biogas, once produced, can be combusted in traditional boilers to provide heat, or to generate electricity. It can be used for the production of chemical compounds, or fed into a pipeline. This review paper will briefly analyze the current most promising emerging biogas technologies in the perspective of their potential uses, environmental
... s, environmental benefits, and public acceptance; draw a picture of current conditions on the adoption of a biogas road map in the several EU Member States; analyze incentive and support policy implementation status and gaps; discuss non-technological barriers; and summarize proposed solutions to widen this energy's use. (3) Overall MSs forecasts for 2020 renewable energy consumption are that the EU should exceed by about 0.3% its established target of renewable energy, fixed at 20% of total consumption. In the EU-27 alone, more than 1.5 x 10 9 tons of animal manure are produced every year, with a total energy generation potential of about 830 PJ [5, 6] . The European Environmental Agency (EEA) estimates that the land potential for environmentally-compatible energy crop cultivation in the EU-27 results in a total additional energy potential of 1115 TWh in 2020 and 1650 TWh in 2030  . By the end of 2014, there were more than 17,000 active biogas plants in Europe, with a total production potential estimated in 770 PJ/year by year 2020, up from 92 PJ/year in 2002: the countries accounting for the largest number of plants are currently Germany and Italy, while the UK is the largest producer of landfill biogas (84% of its national production)  . Table 1 illustrates the 2013 production of biogas from different sources in EU countries, expressed in GWh (re-elaborated from ). It should be noted that landfill-related production is bound to decrease significantly in the future. Sustainability 2016, 8, 298 3 of 18 generate electricity. It can also be used for the production of chemical compounds or fed into a pipeline for long-distance distribution. Nowadays, the technological aspects of biogas production, although of great relevance and in constant progress, are perhaps less important-in the context of a wider diffusion of this renewable energy source-than other non-technological factors, such as its widespread public acceptance, the availability of state and local incentives, distribution infrastructures, and much needed institutional and regulatory support. These non-technological barriers to biogas diffusion are gradually prevailing to technological ones, slowing down at the same time technological progress. Studies and EU-funded projects (among the others BIOSURF, FaBbiogas, ESBF, GreenGasGrid, BiogasIN) have highlighted that specific measures and activities aimed at better diffusion on a wider scale of biomass-derived energy should include institutional capacity building, improvement of framework conditions for biogas development, as well as a cross sectorial biogas collaboration and communication networks, optimization of business models, and project financing  . This paper will briefly overview current biogas technologies and, in the perspective of sustainable energy projects' potential public acceptance, draw a picture of general EU-wide conditions on the adoption of a biogas road map in the MSs, analyze gaps in their implementation and incentive policies, and summarize proposed solutions to widen the diffusion and use of this energy.