Barriers to Implementing Anaeribic Digestion on Dairy Farms in Scotland
Item statusRestricted Access
Due to increasing pressure from the EU, Scotland has committed to reducing its Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions to 80% below 1990 levels by 2050, and to have 50% of electricity from renewable sources by 2020. In 2008 it was estimated that the agricultural sector in Scotland contributed 13% of Scottish GHG emissions, and thus it can be seen that the agricultural industry has an important part to play in helping Scotland reach its targets. Slurry and manure management account for 14% of Scottish agricultural CH4 emissions, with liquid systems commonly used by the dairy industry contributing up to 74% of this. Anaerobic digestion (AD) is able to reduce emissions from the dairy industry by capturing CH4 emissions released from slurry and forming a biogas. This biogas can subsequently be used to replace fossil fuel used for heat and electricity. Furthermore, the digestate produced as a co-product can be used as a fertiliser to enhance the growth of crops and reduce use of synthetic fertilisers, which are a major source of nitrous oxide (N2O) emissions, another harmful GHG. A review of previous research, a series of interviews and an economic appraisal identified that barriers including very high capital costs, confusing regulations, a lack of understanding of what AD is by stakeholders, inappropriate incentives, unreliable technology and a lack of markets for AD products make it unlikely that more than 4% of farms in Scotland would be able to run a financially successful AD plant. Action must be taken to make Scotland a more favourable environment for AD technology. It is recommended that a co-ordinating body is established, ideally within ADBA or the Scottish Executive, to develop the business case for AD in Scotland, and act as advisors for farmers, Government, planners, potential financers and communities. Amongst other things such a body could carry out mapping exercises down to an individual farm level to establish a supply chain for technology and feedstock, and identify problem areas such as a lack of available grid capacity or market for digestate in an area. Training programs and best practice guidelines should be made available for stakeholders, including planning and funding bodies unfamiliar with AD. In addition, research on improving AD technology should be subsidised to help reduce the capital costs associated with AD, and higher paying incentives should be put forward and favourable grants and loans made available to stimulate the AD industry.