The Sustainability of Decentralized Bioenergy Production : Case Study: The 'Bioenergy Village' Bollewick
The concept of Sustainable Development is an interdisciplinary science. Transcending various academic fields the concept shows paths how the needs of present and future generations can be met through economic development on a finite natural resource base. Global warming and rising sea levels are just two of a series of phenomena that are directly attributable to human-induced increasing greenhouse gas levels in the atmosphere as consequence of the combustion of fossil fuels. Therefore, reducing greenhouse gas emissions through the use of renewable resources such as bioenergy are of vital importance if detrimental environmental effects are to be mitigated. The production of biogas in a decentralized context is receiving much attention in Germany as a means to reduce greenhouse gases and to counteract correlated negative environmental effects, respectively. In addition, socio-economic benefits such as local employment creation have the potential to empower rural communities. Subsidised by the German Renewable Sources Act and its various remuneration schemes, two 500kWel CHP biogas plants are producing through anaerobic digestion of maize silage and manure electricity and heat in the East German village Bollewick, which is the case study. The sustainability of this decentralized system is analyzed by applying a set of indicators. Socio-economic benefits for the population, economic efficiency of the digestion process and impacts of substrate costs on the profitability, greenhouse gas emissions due to land use change and biodiversity loss being some of these indicators. The thesis concludes that none of the sustainability indicators are sufficiently fulfilled in Bollewick. Especially the cultivation of the energy crop maize has despite crop rotations immense negative environmental effects. Therefore, the decentralized biogas production in the rurally coined village Bollewick is not sustainable.
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