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Renewable energies, business models and local growth


Energy is one of the driving factors of the world economy: energy consumption is closely linked to quality of life and environmental impact. Reducing the use of fossil fuels, curtailing greenhouse gas emissions, and cutting energy dependence from traditional energy producing countries are the cornerstones of European policies for safe, competitive, sustainable, and renewable energy. In addition, the pressing need to provide new and diversified opportunities for supplementary income for the agricultural sector has fueled the desire to engage rural areas in this process. Biogas, derived from the anaerobic digestion of biomass, is one of the renewable energy sources that has been very successful in these areas recently. This paper describes a practical example of the implementation of a biogas plant at a farm in the Madonie Mountain area of Sicily, Italy; by estimating the costs and revenues that will result from its management, we demonstrate how the bioenergy sector presents a great opportunity for farm supplementary income. Through cost-benefit analysis, we show that the investment is cost-effective both in terms of Net Present Value (NPV) and Internal Rate of Return (IRR).