Feasibility assessment tool for urban anaerobic digestion in developing countries

C.R. Lohri, L. Rodic-Wiersma, C. Zurbrügg

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26 Citations (Scopus)


This paper describes a method developed to support feasibility assessments of urban anaerobic digestion (AD). The method not only uses technical assessment criteria but takes a broader sustainability perspective and integrates technical-operational, environmental, financial-economic, socio-cultural, institutional, policy and legal criteria into the assessment tool developed. Use of the tool can support decision-makers with selecting the most suitable set-up for the given context. The tool consists of a comprehensive set of questions, structured along four distinct yet interrelated dimensions of sustainability factors, which all influence the success of any urban AD project. Each dimension answers a specific question: I) WHY? What are the driving forces and motivations behind the initiation of the AD project? II) WHO? Who are the stakeholders and what are their roles, power, interests and means of intervention? III) WHAT? What are the physical components of the proposed AD chain and the respective mass and resource flows? IV) HOW? What are the key features of the enabling or disabling environment (sustainability aspects) affecting the proposed AD system? Disruptive conditions within these four dimensions are detected. Multi Criteria Decision Analysis is used to guide the process of translating the answers from six sustainability categories into scores, combining them with the relative importance (weights) attributed by the stakeholders. Risk assessment further evaluates the probability that certain aspects develop differently than originally planned and assesses the data reliability (uncertainty factors). The use of the tool is demonstrated with its application in a case study for Bahir Dar in Ethiopia.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)122-131
JournalJournal of Environmental Management
Publication statusPublished - 2013


  • biogas technology
  • waste management
  • expert judgment
  • solid-waste
  • bioenergy
  • framework
  • systems


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