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The impact of German biogas production on European and global agricultural markets, land use and the environment

Listed author(s):
  • Britz, Wolfgang
  • Delzeit, Ruth

As part of its climate policy, Germany promotes the production of biogas via its so-called Renewable-Energy-Act (EEG). The resulting boost in biogas output went along with a significant increase in production of green maize, the dominant feedstock. Existing studies of the EEG have analysed its impacts on German agriculture without considering market feedback. We thus expand existing quantitative analysis by also considering impacts on European and global agricultural markets, land use and the environment by combining a detailed location model for biogas plants, the Regionalised Location Information System-Maize (ReSi-M2012), with a global Partial Equilibrium model for agriculture, the Common Agricultural Policy Regional Impact (CAPRI) model. Our results indicate that the German biogas production is large enough to have sizeable impacts on global agricultural markets in prices and quantities, causing significant land use change outside of Germany. While profits in the agricultural sector increase, food consumer face higher prices, and subsidies for biogas production are passed on to electricity consumers. The German biogas program, as long as it is almost entirely based on non-waste feedstocks, is probably not a promising avenue towards a GHG-saving renewable energy production, but a rather expensive one.

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Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Energy Policy.

Volume (Year): 62 (2013)
Issue (Month): C ()
Pages: 1268-1275

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Handle: RePEc:eee:enepol:v:62:y:2013:i:c:p:1268-1275
DOI: 10.1016/j.enpol.2013.06.123
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  1. Delzeit, Ruth & Britz, Wolfgang & Holm-Müller, Karin, 2011. "Modelling regional input markets with numerous processing plants: The case of green maize for biogas production in Germany," Discussion Papers 162892, University of Bonn, Institute for Food and Resource Economics.
  2. Delzeit, Ruth & Britz, Wolfgang & Kreins, Peter, 2012. "An economic assessment of biogas production and land use under the German renewable energy source act," Kiel Working Papers 1767 [rev.], Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW).
  3. Ruth Delzeit & Karin Holm-Müller & Wolfgang Britz, 2012. "Ökonomische Bewertung des Erneuerbare Energien Gesetzes zur Förderung von Biogas," Perspektiven der Wirtschaftspolitik, Verein für Socialpolitik, vol. 13(3), pages 251-265, August.
  4. Martin Banse & Hans van Meijl & Andrzej Tabeau & Geert Woltjer, 2008. "Will EU biofuel policies affect global agricultural markets?," European Review of Agricultural Economics, Foundation for the European Review of Agricultural Economics, vol. 35(2), pages 117-141, June.
  5. Britz, Wolfgang, 2008. "Automated model linkages: the example of CAPRI," German Journal of Agricultural Economics, Humboldt-Universitaet zu Berlin, Department for Agricultural Economics, vol. 57(8).
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