More than food or fuel. Stakeholder perceptions of anaerobic digestion and land use; a case study from the United Kingdom
Anaerobic digestion (AD) is of growing importance within the UK as it can make an important contribution to the countries energy and climate change targets. With the growth of the sector, discussions about competing land uses are likely to increase. For a better understanding of the synergies between agricultural land, its role and bioenergy the perception of the different stakeholders will play an important role. The perception of stakeholders related to AD, feedstock and energy crop production was investigated through interviews and a stakeholder workshop. The results indicated that from an AD operator and feedstock producer perspective, on-farm AD is more an additional activity integrated into existing agricultural systems than a renewable energy technology. The risk of a shift in agricultural practices and large areas to grow energy crops for AD is seen as low for the UK. Nonetheless, land use and related challenges need to be considered as the demand for AD feedstocks increases with the fast growth of the sector. Considering the synergies between bioenergy and agriculture as well as the motivations and benefits perceived by stakeholders will play an important role in a successful policy design to provide the required emission reduction in both sectors without subverting sustainability.