Anaerobic Digest

BioCycle December 2013, Vol. 54, No. 12, p. 14

San Francisco, California: CPUC Staff Proposal For Bioenergy Fit Implementation

On November 19th, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) released its staff proposal containing implementation guidelines for SB 1122, California’s bioenergy specific feed-in tariff (FIT). The FIT will provide a fixed rate for power delivered to the three investor owned utilities in California (Pacific Gas & Electric, Southern California Edison and San Diego Gas & Electric) from projects under 3 MW using organic municipal waste (Category 1), dairy manure and agricultural residues (Category 2), and forest material (Category 3). While FITs have been implemented in some U.S. locations, this is the first time such a broad, bioenergy specific program has been implemented, which could lead to up to 250 MW of new bioenergy projects. Each resource category has a specific procurement target (110 MW for Category 1, 90 MW for Category 2 and 50 MW for Category 3), assuring that a range of different project types will be developed. Although programs have been established in California to stimulate development of bioenergy projects of this size for the export of power, few have come on-line. SB 1122 provides further project support.

The document outlines proposed aspects of the program, including allocation by utility and resource type, eligibility, pricing and other project requirements. Pricing will be established through use of the Renewable Energy Market Adjusting Tariff (ReMAT), which is proposed to start at $124.66/MWh. This price will adjust up or down during each solicitation period depending on the level of response. Allocation of each resource type per utility is based on statute language and work performed by Black & Veatch on statewide resource availability and project costs. Since eligible bioenergy resources are not evenly distributed throughout the state, the analysis identified locations most suitable for development, potential constraints and recommendations. After the tariff is implemented in 2014, regular procurement periods will be established for each utility, with different ReMAT pricing for each eligible resource category. Eligible projects must pass a series of screens before they can be accepted into the process, including paying a bid fee, a completed interconnection study, site control, experience in development, demonstration that commercial operation will be achieved in 24 months or less, and be “strategically located” based on the estimated transmission network upgrades required. No specific state funding has been allocated for the FIT, therefore cost of procurement by the utilities will likely go into the rate base. The full staff proposal and supporting documentation can be seen at PUC/energy/Renewables/hot/SB_1122_Bioenergy_Feed-in_Tariff.htm. A series of questions have been posted by the CPUC to guide party comments. Comments should be filed no later than December 20th.

Washington, DC: Global Overview Of Agricultural Digesters

The Global Methane Initiative (GMI) released a new report, “Successful Applications Of Anaerobic Digestion From Across The World,” in September 2013 to promote the environmental, financial, social, and health benefits of anaerobic digestion projects, while also demonstrating the varied technologies and partners involved. GMI is an international public-private initiative with more than 40 partner countries that works to promote global methane emission reductions. The U.S. EPA is a GMI partner. The Agriculture Subcommittee of GMI authored the new report, and notes that in 2012, initiatives among the 40 partner countries resulted in actual emission reductions of more than 990,994 metric tons of CO2 equivalent (MTCO2E) across the agriculture sector (with eventual potential emission reductions exceeding 2,211,575 MTCO2E). For the report, the subcommittee received information on nearly 30 projects from 15 countries, which demonstrate the success of AD systems worldwide. Examples include:

The Agro-Energy Cooperative in the Ajuricaba watershed, Parana, Brazil, installed a biodigester in 2009 that uses cow manure to generate 438 MWh/year of energy. The 33 small farms that participate in the cooperative receive financial gains from the production of energy and heat and the biogas grain dryer replaces electric or gas powered grain dryers for extra savings. Digestate is used as fertilizer on agricultural and grassland areas.

In 2009, the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico installed 13 wastewater management systems for 44 swine farms. Each includes an anaerobic digester, enclosed flare, solids separator, storage lagoon and forest plantation; effluent is used as a source of water and nutrients for the plantations. Biogas supplies electricity to all the farms.

The BioSynergy site in Huimbayoc, San Martin, Peru, is located far from the main electric grid and the local community had no prior access to electricity. Today, methane capture yields between 8.74 and 11.65 m3/day of biogas, which provides 16 kW of power. Installation of public lighting from the electricity generated enables local residents to engage in activities after dark and has changed the way the community socializes.

Additionally, SNV, an international nonprofit, recently reached an implementation milestone by installing more than 500,000 anaerobic digesters in 17 countries in Asia and Africa. The Biogas Support Program in Nepal and the Biogas Program in Vietnam are the longest running programs, accounting for more than 80 percent of this total production. The biogas programs in Africa have installed a total of 24,000 biodigesters in the past three years.

Perris, California: Construction Permit Issued To High Solids Digester

In early December, CR&R Environmental Services announced receipt of a permit to construct an anaerobic digestion facility at its Perris Transfer Station and Materials Recovery Facility. With anticipated operation in 2014, the facility is permitted to process over 80,000 tons/year of green waste and food residuals in its first phase of operation (with expansion in later phases to process over 300,000 tons/year). CR&R selected Eisenmann’s high solids anaerobic digestion technology — a continuous horizontal plug flow design — for the facility. The digester is engineered to handle dense materials such as grass, food and other organics in the MSW. The California Energy Commission awarded the project a $4.5 million grant in 2011, as well as an additional $400,000 to build a renewable natural gas (RNG) fueling station. Greenlane Biogas Ltd. is supplying the biogas upgrade system for the fueling station. When the digester comes on line, CR&R will use the compressed RNG to fuel its hauling fleet.

Washington, DC: Comment Now On Renewable Fuel Standard 2014 Targets

The American Biogas Council (ABC) issued an Alert to submit comments on the U.S. EPA’s 2014 renewable fuel targets. “EPA lowered its renewable fuel targets for 2014, which means that refiners of fossil fuels need to buy less renewable fuel, leading to lower prices for biogas producers who convert biogas to vehicle fuel,” explains Patrick Serfass, ABC’s Executive Director. “That sends the wrong message to markets and investors and stands to make the road to biogas project investment even more difficult. We need to let EPA know the targets have to be sustained or raised, not lowered!” EPA will accept comments on the proposed lowered targets for advanced biofuels through January 28, 2014. ABC will be commenting in favor of increasing those targets and encourages all biogas stakeholders to do the same.

Each year, the EPA sets the amount of renewable fuel that must be generated as a part of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). The ABC Alert explains that the EPA proposal would require refiners to blend 15.21 billion gallons of renewable fuels into petroleum-based gasoline and diesel next year. Of that, 13.01 billion gallons is to come from conventional ethanol and 2.2 billion gallons from “advanced biofuels” that do not use cornstarch as an input. The 2007 law that created the current RFS with the higher targets calls for 18.15 billion gallons of renewable fuels to be blended into petroleum-based gasoline and diesel in 2014; of that, 14.4 billion gallons is conventional ethanol and 3.75 billion gallons is advanced biofuels.

“While the proposed lowering of the fuel targets by 1 to 3 billion gallons in the different categories is significant, what’s even more significant is the fact that EPA has even proposed to lower them,” notes Serfass. “Just the suggestion has already sent a very negative market signal indicating slower growth of the renewable fuels market. Most of the industry has been investing and gearing up for more renewable fuel production, thinking lowered targets won’t even be on the table. So it’s both the volume and the action itself that’s hurting the entire renewable fuels industry, which includes biogas. But it’s not too late to fight back.”

Under existing EPA rules, biogas from landfills and wastewater treatment and manure digesters qualifies as “advanced biofuels.” In a likely administrative oversight, anaerobic digesters processing plant-based materials such as crop residue, food waste and municipal solid waste currently do not qualify as advanced biofuel under the RFS, but a different, still pending EPA Notice of Proposed Rule Making aims to include them. For more information, visit

Dublin, Ireland: AD Europe 2014 Conference

“Growing The Industry In The Next 5 Years — Waste or Energy Policies?” That is the title of the first presentation at AD Europe 2014, February 20-21, 2014 in Dublin, and sets the stage for an interesting discussion of what policy drivers are needed to increase utilization of anaerobic digestion technologies to manage organic waste streams. Sponsored by the European Compost Network and Cré, the Composting & Anaerobic Digestion Association of Ireland, conference sessions cover digestate and compost characterization and utilization, biogas to vehicles and the grid, optimization of the AD process and technology, and management of combined composting and anaerobic digestion facilities. Nora Goldstein, Editor of BioCycle, will be giving a presentation on Anaerobic Digestion of Source Separated Organics in America. To learn more, visit

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