Agrobioenergia is a farming cooperative society that built a biogas plant fed with biomass from 25 associated farmers (corn and agricultural by-products)
A group of 25 local neighboring farmers, during a negative economic situation for conventional crops, decided to join and to find a collective solution. In 2005, they established an agricultural cooperative society (Agrobioenergia) with the aim of building a biogas plant to use biomass (corn and agricultural by-products) from the associates. The plant was built in 2010 and through anaerobic digestion it produces:
• Digestate - used as fertilizer for the fields of the associates.
• Biogas - sent to the cogeneration plant, where energy power and heat are produced. Energy power is sold to the grid while heat is (partially) used at local level.
In 2010 national incentives for biogas production were high; they last 15 years so Agribioenergia is now trying to make the process more resource efficient and economic self-sustained before this deadline. In order to do that:
- they progressively increase the amount of by-products of the ‘diet’ of the plant, instead of corn from dedicated energy crop (by-products are cheaper than crop)
- they will build a plant where herbal medicines (from their fields) can be dried thanks to the heat coming from the CPH plant, in order to take advantage of the entire heat power production.
While economic benefits are exclusively for associated farmers, environmental benefits are an added value for the entire society (less waste to be disposed, less chemical substances used on the fields, energy produced by renewable resources)
The investment for the building of the biogas plant was about 5 Millions of euros.
The cooperative society received a regional grant of 500.000 euro
Evidence of success
-Elimination of costs for purchasing chemical fertilizer and for waste disposal
-Reduction of biomass transport costs (short distances from farmers to the plant)
-New market (dried herbal medicines)
-Electric and heat energy from renewable resources
-High energy efficiency (cogeneration with heat recovery)
-Recovery of by-products/agricultural waste
-Short supply chain for energy production
-Chemical fertilizer replaced with digestate
A technical knowledge gap was encountered. Agribioenergie went to visit plants in foreign countries to learn about available techniques and to choose the one to adapt to their local situation (kind of crops, type of soil, distances, agricultural resources available, market conditions)
Potential for learning or transfer
This practice can be interesting for all those situations where a lot of agricultural waste need to be disposed. Biogas plant could turn this problem into a resource (i.e. energy production and digestate production). In any case, technological solution has to be chosen on the basis of the biomass available (dry or wet or both)