In recent years, Italy has witnessed the proliferation of numerous renewable energy plants. Taking into consideration the social organization of energy production and use, institutional factors played an important role on their diffusion. In the Italian regulatory framework, the importance of institutional factors is strongly emphasized by the spreading of agricultural biogas plants. Integrating the theoretical approach of neo-institutionalism with the analysis of farming styles, the article describes the state and evolution of agricultural biogas in Italy, investigating institutional pressures shaping organizational models by which farms adopt biogas technology. It is highlighted an isomorphic process, in which a monopolistic market, legal structures and subsides bring about the dominance of a standardized biogas infrastructural system. However, standardizing the biogas systems did not lead to an improvement in environmental efficiency. For a more sustainable development of bioenergy, Italian policy makers should reform the institutional framework, reorganizing subsides, liberalizing the management of gas grids and involving farmers in integrate local projects.
Keywords: Agroenergy, neo-istitutionalism, rural development, organizational isomorphism, organizational fields.