Anaerobic Digest

BioCycle September 2012, Vol. 53, No. 9, p. 19

Washington, DC: USDA Announces AD Funding

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Business-Cooperative Service recently announced $14 million in funding for its Value Added Producer Grant competitive grants program. The program is designed to help agricultural producers enter into value-added activities and may be used for the funding of an anaerobic digester if it is part of a project that adds value to an agricultural product. For example, if digested solids will be used as animal bedding or as a soil amendment, or if the generated methane will be used to power a value-added enterprise such as milk processing or cheese making, such a project would qualify. Awards will be granted for either economic planning or working capital activities related to the processing and/or marketing of value-added agricultural products. The maximum grant amount for a planning grant is $100,000; the maximum amount for a working capital grant is $300,000. Applications are due October 15, 2012. Find out more at www.rurdev.usda.gov/BCP_VAPG.html.

Milton, Pennsylvania: Plant Upgrades, Food Processing Wastewater Digestion

The Milton Regional Sewer Authority (MRSA) is nine months into construction of a state of the art $64.5 million treatment system that features a Wastewater to Energy Project. Funding includes a USDA Rural Development Wastewater American Recovery & Reinvestment Act loan for $34.1 million, a USDA Rural Development Wastewater loan for $25 million and two grants from the state of Pennsylvania — $5 million from the Department of Community and Economic Development (H20 grant) and $375,000 from the Department of Environmental Protection. The new facility, expected to be on line in 2014, will have the capacity to process about 4 million gallons/day. In addition to Milton, it will serve five communities in the surrounding area, as well as its main customer, Con Agra, which currently accounts for about half of MRSA’s influent (2 million gallons/day). In the new system, the food manufacturing facility’s high strength wastewater will be piped directly to an ADI-BVF low rate anaerobic reactor being installed at the MRSA facility. The biogas generated will be used to produce electricity for the plant. Any excess power will be sold to the grid. Heat captured from the engine generator will dry the biosolids and yield a Class A product for agricultural application. Currently, MRSA spends $400,000 annually to landfill its biosolids.

“MRSA also spends around $1,000/ day on power; once it’s up and running, they won’t have to buy electricity,” says John Williams, Pennsylvania State Engineer with USDA Rural Development. “Combined with the savings on tipping fees, that’s $765,000 in annual savings, and if you have that kind of money available, you can carry a substantial loan.”

Middlebury, Indiana: Duck Offal Digester

Culver Duck Farms, located outside of Middlebury, processes 6.5 million ducks annually. All ducks are raised on satellite farms within the local Amish community. Recently the company broke ground on an anaerobic digester to manage the 18,000 lbs/day of duck offal generated in its processing plant. Culver Duck had been selling the offal as by-products, but has been gradually decreasing that practice. According to an August 17 article in The Elkhart Truth newspaper, the $4 million digester and biogas plant will have the capacity to generate 1.2 MW, which will be sold to Northern Indiana Public Service Co. (NIPSCO) under a 15-year power purchase agreement. The 942,000-gallon capacity digester is designed and constructed by Specialty Concrete Construction; Organic Waste Systems is providing the biochemical engineering services, and advised Culver Duck on digester selection.

Duck offal (primarily blood and innards) will be combined with corn silage and other materials for digestion. Exhaust heat from the three engine generators, supplied by 2G Cenergy, will be used to heat cleaning water at the Culver Duck Farms facility, as well as the digestion facility itself. Start-up is scheduled to begin in October 2012, when the offal and other feedstocks will begin being loaded into the tank. The gensets will be installed in October and started up in November. Culver Duck, which has privately financed the project, hopes to see a return on investment in as little as four years, according to the Elkhart Truth article. The company was able to receive Section 1603 funds for one-third of the capital cost of the digester project.

Washington, DC: Deploying 40 Gigawatts Of Industrial CHP By 2020

President Obama issued an Executive Order recently to deploy 40 gigawatts of new, cost-effective industrial CHP (combined heat and power) in the United States by the end of 2020. “The industrial sector accounts for over 30 percent of all energy consumed in the United States, and, for many manufacturers, energy costs affect overall competitiveness,” states the Executive Order. “… Instead of burning fuel in an on site boiler to produce thermal energy and also purchasing electricity from the grid, a manufacturing facility can use a CHP system to provide both types of energy in one energy efficient step.” Many anaerobic digestion facilities utilize CHP units to generate electricity from biogas and capture the thermal heat for both digester operations and for use by the facilities where the CHP units are installed. The White House order instructs the Departments of Energy, Commerce, and Agriculture, and the Environmental Protection Agency, in coordination with the National Economic Council, the Domestic Policy Council, the Council on Environmental Quality, and the Office of Science and Technology Policy, to “coordinate policies to encourage investment in industrial efficiency in order to reduce costs for industrial users, improve U.S. competitiveness, create jobs, and reduce harmful air pollution.”

Santa Clara, California: Tapping Waning Biogas Supply

The City of Santa Clara’s All Purpose Landfill, which closed in 1994, had been generating sufficient biogas to feed a 2.5 MW reciprocating engine. In late 2005, the gas engine was shut down as the landfill was not producing sufficient gas to operate the equipment economically. The city began searching for a renewable energy alternative, while it flared the gas being generated. In 2006, the city partnered with Ameresco, which installed three FlexEnergy MT250 microturbines with capacity to produce 750 kWh. Ameresco owns and operates the microturbines, and sells the electricity to Silicon Valley Power, the city’s electric utility.

“The turbines have an unusually low emissions profile that allows them to be certified by the California Air Resources Board,” says Michael Bakas, Ameresco’s Senior Vice-President of LFG Development. “They can run on LFG with as little as 30 percent methane, and when necessary, we can take a unit off line when gas flow is especially low.” The gas is cleaned by dehydration and activated carbon adsorption for siloxane removal. Ameresco received the SWANA Silver Excellence Award in Landfill Gas Utilization for the Santa Clara project last month.

Portland, Oregon: Grid Connection Agreement

In late August, Columbia Biogas signed a Small Generator Interconnection Agreement to connect its food waste to energy project to the grid at PacifiCorp’s Killingsworth substation in Northeast Portland. The deal is part of a 20-year Power Purchase Agreement the two parties entered into in May and brings the $55 million project one step closer to reality. “This is a landmark agreement with PacifiCorp,” says John McKinney, president of Columbia Biogas.

Located on an 11-acre industrial site in Northeast Portland, the project is designed to produce 3 MW initially and 5MW at buildout from food waste collected from area food distributors, food and beverage manufacturers, grocery stores and restaurants. Columbia Biogas selected the Farmatic anaerobic digestion technology for the project.

The scale of power production helped facilitate the agreement with the utility. “PacifiCorp has a program and a defined rate to support the establishment of small generation facilities,” McKinney explains. “Had our facility been over 10 MW, competing with hydro and/or gas generation would likely be challenging.” Under the terms of the agreement, PacificCorp will pay a fixed price of 3.72 cents/kWh on-peak and 2.62 cents/kWh off-peak beginning in 2013 and graduating to 4.39 cents/kWh on-peak and 2.99 cents/kWh off-peak by 2015. The forecast price is 6.042 cents/kWh on-peak and 3.685 cents/kWh off-peak beginning in 2016, graduating to 9.526 cents/kWh on-peak and 6.365 cents/kWh off-peak by 2032.

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