Renewable energy on farms

The search for an alternative source of energy resulted in new business opportunities for Czech farmers. Next to the biomass and biofuels production there is visible growth in the use of on-farm biogas development generating both electricity and heat. In the beginning of the year 2012 there were 264 digesters in operation with an overall output 168 MWe. Some estimates suggest that by the year 2015 the number will increase to 400 plants. Development of the sector has been supported by technological advance, but also by new economic conditions and favourable institutional setting. Investments into the installation of the new biogas plants has been supported from the Rural Development Programme and the producer receive subsidized prices when selling the electricity. Within this new initiative existing in Czech agrarian sector, numerous innovative farms have managed to successfully integrate energy production into their portfolio and enhance the resilience of their enterprise (including the farm on organic sector). The case study draws on extensive qualitative inquiry, which is primarily based on in-dept interviews with operators of the biogas plants, representatives of technological companies and professional organizations. Regional aspects of sustainability have been studied with a particular focus on Vysocina Region.

Image: Biogas Plant on Vysoké Studnice Farm, Czech Republic (Courtesy of the Czech team)