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On May 23, 2024, the ALFA project and Sustainable Innovations hosted the first of six planned webinars, focusing on the challenges and needs for the uptake of biogas in livestock farming across Europe. With over 38 participants, this event was a great opportunity to further discuss stakeholders’ and civil society’s perceptions and for understanding and overcoming the barriers to biogas adoption in the agricultural sector.

Key Presentations and Findings

White Research presented a detailed analysis based on its European-wide surveys of experts and citizens, that was conducted last year. This analysis highlighted a series of identified barriers, needs, and enabling factors crucial for the uptake of biogas in livestock farming. The findings were categorized into several key areas:

  • Authorisation and Permits: Navigating the complex and often lengthy permit processes emerged as a significant challenge. Participants pointed out that the current system is a bottleneck that delays project implementation.
  • Economic Feasibility: Financial challenges, including the high initial investment costs and the long-term economic sustainability of biogas projects, were highlighted. Many participants stressed the need for robust business models and financial support mechanisms.
  • Regulatory Heterogeneity: The inconsistency in regulations across different EU regions poses a significant hurdle. Harmonizing these regulations could simplify the adoption process and create a more conducive environment for biogas projects.

The European Biogas Association provided an overview of the current status of biogas in Europe, emphasizing the environmental and economic benefits of enhancing biogas adoption. Key benefits include reducing greenhouse gas emissions, managing livestock waste effectively, and generating renewable energy.

Regional Challenges and Needs

During the webinar, attendees were encouraged to share their regional experiences and concerns utilising a Mentimeter presentation. The responses highlighted several region-specific challenges:

  • Lack of Awareness: A recurring theme was the need for increased awareness and education about the benefits of biogas among farmers and the general public.
  • Infrastructure and Training: Regions reported a lack of necessary infrastructure and training for biogas production, indicating a need for investment in these areas.
  • Feedstock Supply: The availability and transportation of feedstock were noted as critical issues, particularly in regions with dispersed livestock farms.

Policy Focus for the Future

Participants were asked to provide insights on what EU policy should prioritize in the next three years and longer term:

  • Financial Support and Simplified Licensing: There was a strong call for financial support, infrastructure investment, and simplified licensing processes. Many participants emphasized the need for subsidy and funding opportunities for novel technologies.
  • Stable and Long-Term Legislation: Ensuring a stable legislative environment was deemed crucial to encourage investment. The establishment of clear, future-proof policy frameworks that allow for innovative solutions was suggested.
  • Holistic Approach: Developing synergies in biogas and biomethane production and considering co-products were recommended to enhance the economic viability of biogas projects.

Strategies for Policymakers

To overcome the identified challenges, several strategies were suggested:

  • Awareness Campaigns: Initiating campaigns to raise awareness among farmers about the benefits and opportunities of biogas.
  • Innovative Funding Schemes: Designing funding schemes that cater to a diverse range of actors, including both large and small players.
  • Market Support for Co-Products: Providing market support for the co-products of biogas and biomethane to enhance their cost competitiveness.

Conclusion

The webinar successfully brought together diverse stakeholders to discuss the critical challenges and needs for the uptake of biogas in livestock farming across Europe. By identifying these barriers and suggesting targeted policy actions, the ALFA project aims to foster a more supportive environment for biogas adoption. The subsequent webinars in this series will continue to build on these insights, cultivating the dialogue and collaboration necessary to advance biogas technology in the agricultural sector.

 

Find the webinar’s recording here: https://youtu.be/2kqdP1DUpIg

 

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