An investigation of the potential adoption of anaerobic digestion for energy production in irish farms

Sean O’connor, Ehiaze Ehimen, Suresh C. Pillai, Niamh Power, Gary A. Lyons, John Bartlett

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


Anaerobic digestion (AD) has been recognised as an effective means of simultaneously producing energy while reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Despite having a large agriculture sector, Ireland has experienced little uptake of the technology, ranking 20th within the EU-28. It is, therefore, necessary to understand the general opinions, willingness to adopt, and perceived obstacles of potential adopters of the technology. As likely primary users of this technology, a survey of Irish cattle farmers was conducted to assess the potential of on-farm AD for energy production in Ireland. The study seeks to understand farmers’ motivations, perceived barriers, and preferred business model. The study found that approximately 41% of the 91 respondents were interested in installing AD on their farming enterprise within the next five years. These Likely Adopters tended to have a higher level of education attainment, and together, currently hold 4379 cattle, potentially providing 37,122 t year−1 of wastes as feedstock, resulting in a potential CO2 reduction of 800.65 t CO2-eq. year−1. Moreover, the results indicated that the primary consideration preventing the implementation of AD is a lack of information regarding the technology and high investment costs. Of the Likely Adopters and Possible Adopters, a self-owned and operated plant was the preferred ownership structure, while 58% expressed an interest in joining a co-operative scheme. The findings generated provide valuable insights into the willingness of farmers to implement AD and guidance for its potential widespread adoption.

Original languageEnglish
Article number8
Pages (from-to)1-13
Number of pages13
JournalEnvironments - MDPI
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2021


  • Anaerobic digestion
  • Biogas production
  • Decentralised
  • Farm-scale

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment


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