The paper considers the role of anaerobic digestion in promoting good agricultural practice on farms and the contribution this would make to reducing the environmental impacts associated with manure management. There are no regulatory drivers to promote the use of digestion in Europe, and the technology has only been widely adopted where economic drivers and coherent policies have been implemented at a national level. These measures have included direct subsidy on the energy price paid for “green electricity”, and exemption of tax when biogas is used as a vehicle fuel. In those countries where financial incentives are not available or where a financial penalty is incurred through the regulatory regime, the uptake of digestion has been poor. Even with subsidies, digestion of animal manures as a single substrate is not common, and countries with successful schemes have achieved this either by permitting the import of wastes onto the farm or offering bonus subsidies for the use of energy crops. Both of these measures improve the energy efficiency of the process by increasing the volumetric methane production, although concerns are expressed that attention could concentrate on energy production at the expense of improving manure management.

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