ISAAC project

ISAAC is the acronym of Increasing Social Awareness and ACceptance of biogas and biomethane.

the project

Although Italy is the second European biogas producer after Germany, it still has a great potential for biogas production and market expansion, especially in central and southern regions. According to elaborations of CIB – Consorzio Italiano Biogas e Gassificazione (based on the 2015 annual report of GSE – Gestore dei Servizi Energetici), more than 1550 plants with a total capacity of around 1160 MWel have been installed, but the non-technical barriers, that impede a more widespread diffusion, are still critical.

ISAAC is a project financed by Horizon 2020 Programme, whose main aim is to remove non-technical barriers, such as lack of public acceptance and coordination for the biogas facilities diffusion, normative and legislative inadequacies, in order to support biogas/biomethane market penetration in Italy and make plants implementation easier within the national context.

Actions will be focused on spreading balanced information on the biogas production process and related environmental and economic benefits among the stakeholders potentially involved in the construction of plants. A participatory process model will be developed and implemented in two pilot territories to build a common decision-making process and prevent social conflicts. The analysis of biogas production potential from residual biomass will constitute the starting point for communication and information activities. Awareness campaigns will be conducted in seven Italian regions to promote discussion, information sharing and co-planning among stakeholders. Specific actions will be focused on reducing fragmentation among individual biomass producers (farmers, breeders, etc.) in order to reach the minimum facility dimension needed and maximise economic advantages. A crowdfunding initiative will be proposed to create new opportunities and a sense of ownership and involvement. Proposals for improvements of the current Italian regulations on biomethane and digestate use will be prepared and discussed with the authorities in charge.

work packages



WP1 – Project management and monitoring of project progress

The objective of this work package is to organize a management system tailored to the specific needs of the project’s context, structure and number of partners in order to ensure efficiency and effectiveness in the achievement of project objectives in respect of cost and resource constraints.

Along with the obligations of reporting and control set by the Grant Agreement, the project management will implement a set of internal indicators to monitor the performance of the project’s activities and the effectiveness of the project actions as compared to the initial situation, objectives and expected results.





WP2 – State of the art

This work package aims at:

  • evaluating the state of the art on:
    • the current biogas and biomethane scenario in Italy (number of plants, energy production, quantity of biomass used) and the residual biomass potential in Italy and Europe;
    • technological aspects of biogas/biomethane production and gas grid injection and collecting best practices in Italy and Europe;
    • the use of digestate and collecting best practices in Europe;
    • participatory processes related to local energy policies and collecting best practices in Italy and Europe;
  • analysing the local opposition events that caused problems to biogas plant owners, thus limiting the growth of biogas and biomethane sector in Italy.




WP3 – Overcoming social barriers

The purpose of this work package is:

  • to overcome the social conflicts that may arise in respect of new biogas plants to be built;
  • to disseminate scientific information among citizens, policy-makers, enterprises and other stakeholders, in order to answer to their hesitations regarding biogas projects, to explain the economic and environmental benefits and to involve them in an open discussion.

A participatory process model will be defined and implemented in two pilot territories in Italy (one biogas plants will be fed with agricultural wastes and the other with the organic fraction of municipal solid waste). Information campaigns will be conducted, in the those territories and other five ones, in order to raise awareness among citizens, students and all the socio-economic stakeholders.




WP4 – Overcoming fragmentation

The main aim of this work package is to involve all relevant local key actors such as farmers, breeders, investors and authorities in the decision-making process towards installation of biogas plants and promote their active cooperation.

A specific calculation tool to assess residual biomass availability and biogas/biomethane production potential will be developed and applied in the selected territories and used by farmers, breeders and other stakeholders during workshops. The use of crowdfunding will be evaluated to involve citizens in the realization of a plant of public interest.




WP5 – Overcoming regulatory and administrative barriers

This work package is focused on new regulation proposals starting from existing European and national law with the scope of identifying the main administrative barriers against biogas/biomethane development and improving the local administrations knowledge and governance regarding biogas/biomethane projects.

A normative proposal on the participatory process will be recommended, improvements of the current Italian regulation on biomethane and digestate use will be proposed and training courses for municipal and regional technicians will be organized.




WP6 – Social and economics analysis

This work package aims at offering socio-economic insights regarding the implementation, impacts and acceptability of biogas/biomethane plants in local areas and evaluating potential funding schemes (e.g. crowdfunding, PPP) viable for the ISAAC plants.

Repeated surveys will be handed out to citizens in order to analyse how public acceptance of plants changes as the project’s activities progress. Socio-economic and environmental analyses of impacts will be carried out using various methodologies (life cycle assessment, cost/benefit analysis, etc.).




WP7 – Institutional Communication and Capitalization of the project results

The activities of this work package aim at:

  • widely informing about the project approach and results to foster and facilitate the adoption and exploitation of the methodology in different contexts,
  • promoting the project and its lessons learnt to experts and institutional stakeholders.

Dissemination activities will include: the project web site, meetings with stakeholders, divulgation through media and journals, participation in conferences, publications of issues in peer-reviewed literature and books, periodic press conferences.




WP8 – European networking

The scope of this work package is to share problems, challenges and tools and to create synergies where possible.

European projects or other kind of initiatives working on the project’s themes will be selected and their representatives invited to ISAAC’s meetings and local events to talk about their associations and experiences.

Confrontation with already in place solutions is fundamental to increase the overall knowledge, to avoid repeating similar mistakes and to overcome possible issues.


expected results

  • increasing the biogas share in the final energy consumption by reducing NIMBY conflicts and fragmentation among stakeholders, as non-technical barriers to the installation of new anaerobic digestion plants (WP3, WP4);
  • developing a more effective policy at national and regional level by producing clear and concrete proposals for law improvements and harmonization of authorization procedures (WP5);
  • assessing socio-economic and environmental impacts through surveys, cost/benefit analysis and other methodologies (WP6);
  • developing tailored financing schemes to fund plants (WP4, WP6);
  • encouraging the uptake of information and news about biogas/biomethane applications and anaerobic digestion process enhancing the knowledge of this method and related benefits among a wide range of stakeholders (WP3, WP4, WP7);
  • involving farmers and other economic subjects in considering biogas as a new source of revenue and increasing their engagement in energy transition (WP3, WP4).