A Spatial MAS Simulation to Evaluate the Promotion of Electricity from Agricultural Biogas Plants in Germany
FCN Working Paper No. 1/2011 (revised October 2012)
51 Pages Posted: 14 Mar 2011 Last revised: 9 Jan 2015
Date Written: January 2011
In this paper we investigate how changes in the support scheme may affect electricity generation from agricultural Combined Heat and Power (CHP) biogas plants in Germany. A recursive Multi-Agent System (MAS) for investment decision-making is coupled with GIS data. The spatial-temporal diffusion model accounts for the limited availability of substrate resources, alternative plant sizes and different heat use combinations. For illustration, we apply the model to the German federal states of North Rhine-Westphalia and Bavaria, for which we estimate an additional economic capacity potential of 409 MWel. Overall, we conclude that current feed-in payments per unit of electric power provided are probably not too far off the optimum level, if one considers the maximum diffusion of CHP units possible. However, the current feed-in system may overtly favor small generating units, thereby failing to incentivize coordination among farmers for joint resource use in larger and more efficient plants. In addition, optimization of the biogas conversion process and feedstock use would also be highly beneficial.
Keywords: Biogas, Technological diffusion, MAS, GIS, Policy
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