Renewable energy sources represent a suitable alternative to conventional fossil fuels, due to the possible advantages in terms of environmental impact reduction. Anaerobic digestion of biomasses could be considered an environmental friendly way to treat and revalorise large amounts of by-products from farming industries because it ensures both pollution control and energy recovery. Therefore, the objective of this study was to define a methodology for evaluating the potential biogas production available from citrus pulp and olive pomace, which are suitable agricultural by-products for biogas production. In the first phase of the study, the spatial distribution of both olive and citrus-producing areas was analysed in Sicily, a geographical area of the Mediterranean basin highly representative of these types of cultivation. Then, a GIS-based model, which had been previously defined and utilised to evaluate the amount of citrus pulp and olive pomace production, was applied to this case study. Based on the results obtained for the different provinces of Sicily, the province of Catania was chosen as the study area of this work since it showed the highest production of both citrus pulp and olive pomace. Therefore, a further analysis regarded the quantification of olive pomace and citrus pulp at municipal level. The results of this analysis showed that the total amount of available citrus pulp and olive pomace corresponded theoretically to about 11,102,469 Nm3/year biogas. Finally, the methodology adopted in this study made it possible to identify suitable areas for the development of new biogas plants by considering both the spatial distribution of the olive and citrus growing areas and the locations of the existing processing industries.
Olive pomace; citrus pulp; by-products; anaerobic digestion; biogas; GIS; spatial analysis.