Bioenergy production from roadside grass: A case study of the feasibility of using roadside grass for biogas production in Denmark

Research output: Research - peer-reviewJournal article

Abstract

This paper presents a study of the feasibility of utilising roadside vegetation for biogas production in Denmark. The potential biomass yield, methane yields, and the energy balances of using roadside grass for biogas production was investigated based on spatial analysis. The results show that the potential annual yield of biomass obtainable from roadside verges varies widely depending on the local conditions. The net energy gain (NEG) from harvest, collection, transport, storage and digestion of roadside vegetation was estimated to range from 60,126–121,476 GJ, corresponding to 1.5–3.0% of the present national energy production based on biogas. The estimated values for the energy return on invested energy (EROEI) was found to range from 2.17 to 2.88. The measured contents of heavy metals in the roadside vegetation was seen not to exceed the legislative levels for what can be applied as fertilizer on agricultural land, neither does it reach levels considered as inhibitory for the anaerobic fermentation process. From a practical point of view, few challenges were identified related to the acquisition and processing of the roadside vegetation. Considering the positive net energy gains, further energy investments for management of these challenges can be made. Despite the somewhat low EROEI values, the use of this resource could however result in other positive externalities, such as improved biodiversity of the verges and recycling of nutrients.
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This paper presents a study of the feasibility of utilising roadside vegetation for biogas production in Denmark. The potential biomass yield, methane yields, and the energy balances of using roadside grass for biogas production was investigated based on spatial analysis. The results show that the potential annual yield of biomass obtainable from roadside verges varies widely depending on the local conditions. The net energy gain (NEG) from harvest, collection, transport, storage and digestion of roadside vegetation was estimated to range from 60,126–121,476 GJ, corresponding to 1.5–3.0% of the present national energy production based on biogas. The estimated values for the energy return on invested energy (EROEI) was found to range from 2.17 to 2.88. The measured contents of heavy metals in the roadside vegetation was seen not to exceed the legislative levels for what can be applied as fertilizer on agricultural land, neither does it reach levels considered as inhibitory for the anaerobic fermentation process. From a practical point of view, few challenges were identified related to the acquisition and processing of the roadside vegetation. Considering the positive net energy gains, further energy investments for management of these challenges can be made. Despite the somewhat low EROEI values, the use of this resource could however result in other positive externalities, such as improved biodiversity of the verges and recycling of nutrients.
Original languageEnglish
JournalResources, Conservation and Recycling
Volume93
Pages (from-to)124-133
ISSN0921-3449
DOI
StatePublished - 2014
Publication categoryResearch
Peer-reviewedYes

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