Inderscience Publishers

Spatial diffusion of biogas technology in Switzerland: a GIS-based multi-agent simulation approach

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In this paper, we study the viability and spatial diffusion of agricultural biogas technology in Switzerland by means of a multi-agent simulation model. The simulation process displays the estimated dissemination of biogas technology in the different regions of Switzerland over the period from 2006 to 2025, taking the varying circumstances for biogas use in each region explicitly into account. The simulation model developed is fed with Geographic Information System (GIS) data on the community level. These data comprise geographical, agricultural resources and economic information. The model accounts for three alternative plant sizes, for which realistic parameter value assumptions are made. Key findings to emerge from the sensitivity analyses and simulation-runs are that feed-in tariff, cosubstrate price and heat revenue are critical parameters for the diffusion dynamics, and that current subsidy policy favours smaller plant sizes, whereas larger plants are apparently economically feasible in only a few areas with high substrate densities.

Keywords: agricultural biogas, Switzerland, economic viability, spatial diffusion, multi-agent simulation, GIS, geographic information system, multi-agent systems, MAS, agent-based systems, modelling, plant sizes, feed-in tariff, cosubstrate price, heat revenue, subsidy policy, renewable energy

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