Technical and economic analysis of biogas production in Ireland utilising three different crop rotations
Civil and Environmental Engineering
The Biofuels Directive sets reference values for the quantity of biofuels and other renewable fuels to be placed on the transport market. Biogas from agricultural crops can be used to meet this directive. This paper investigates biogas production for three crop rotations: wheat, barley and sugar beet; wheat, wheat and sugar beet; wheat only. A technical and economic analysis for each crop rotation was carried out. It was found that wheat produces significantly more biogas than either barley or sugar beet, when examined on a weight basis. However sugar beet produces more biogas and subsequently more energy when examined on an area basis. When producing biofuels, land is the limiting factor to the quantity of energy that may be produced. Thus if optimising land then a crop rotation of wheat, wheat and sugar beet should be utilised, as this scenario produced the greatest quantity of energy. This scenario has a production cost of €0.90/mN3, therefore, this scenario is competitive with petrol when the price of petrol is at least €1.09/l (VAT is charged at 21%). If optimising the production costs then a crop rotation of wheat only should be utilised when the cost of grain is less than €132/ton. This scenario has the least production cost at €0.83/mN3, therefore, this scenario is competitive with petrol when the price of petrol is at least €1.00/l. But as this scenario produces the least quantity of biogas, it also produces the least quantity of energy. In comparing with other works by the authors it is shown that a biomethane system produces more energy from the same crops at a cheaper cost than an ethanol system.
Murphy J.D., Power N. (2009), ‘Technical and economic analysis of biogas production in Ireland using three different crop rotations’, Applied Energy, Volume 86 pp. 25 – 36.