September 19, 2011 | General

Anaerobic Digest

BioCycle September 2011, Vol. 52, No. 9, p. 15

Watervliet, New York
The city of just over 10,000 about six miles north of Albany will use a $12,000 joint grant from Horizon Milling and parent company Cargill to explore the possibility of adding anaerobic digestion (AD) technology to a Climate Action Plan that already includes photovoltaic solar and hydropower. With the grant, Watervliet will do a waste characterization study, purchase organics recycling bins for a residential pilot program and begin to evaluate technologies for a community digester. “Our theme is urban application where the waste stream is right there,” explains Watervliet Mayor Michael Manning. “We’re already picking up our own refuse and recyclables, and we’ve managed all of that so that waste is down and recyclables are up.” Collecting and processing organics is the next logical step, he says, adding that AD and composting will probably both ultimately be part of the organics management picture.
In fact, Manning adds, Watervliet may compost its residential food waste initially while it evaluates its AD options and may ultimately decide that composting is the way to go. Besides town residents, potential contributors to the local organics recycling stream include Price Chopper, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, the Watervliet Arsenal and the Watervliet City School District. The plan is to hammer out the logistics during the third and fourth quarters of 2011 in preparation for a pilot digester to be provided at no cost by Spectrum Bioenergy that is currently being evaluated by the nearby Albany County Sewer District.
Filer, Idaho
An article in July 2011 BioCycle, “Digester Developers In The Agricultural Sector,” incorrectly stated that Bettencourt Dairies, LLC’s Rock Creek Dairy anaerobic digester project near Filer is being developed by The New Energy Company (TNEC). Jay Kesting, Director of Renewable Energy Development for Western States Equipment Co., contacted BioCycle after the article was published to explain that Western States is the owner of the Rock Creek Dairy project, known as New Energy One, LLC. “TNEC was a contractor to us at one point, but isn’t any longer,” says Kesting. “Our digester technology is from Northern BioGas of Green Bay, Wisconsin, not UTS as cited in the article. Completion is scheduled for the second quarter of 2012, and the project will be operated by Standley & Co. of Jerome, Idaho. The installed capacity of the gensets will be 3 MW. We are putting in two Caterpillar G3520 units.”
The digester will treat manure from a total of 8,900 cows. Northern Biogas is supplying six vessels (similar to ones shown in the photo) that have capacity of approximately one million gallons each. “We also are constructing new pits that the vacuum trucks will empty into,” says Kesting. The project has PUC approval and New Energy One is working with Idaho Power to eventually deliver enough power to provide electricity to 1,000 homes. “Western States is a Caterpillar dealer, and we were able to use CAT nonrecourse project financing for the Rock Creek Dairy project, which takes a lot of the risk away,” he adds. “The real jam in the sandwich that is making this project happen is Caterpillar Financial.”
Krakow, Poland
The Global Methane Initiative (GMI) is a voluntary, multilateral partnership that aims to reduce global methane emissions and advance the abatement, recovery and use of methane as a valuable clean energy source. GMI works to achieve these goals through an international network of private sector members, development banks, universities and other governmental and nongovernmental organizations. This network is intended to help build capacity, develop strategies and markets and remove barriers to project development for methane reduction to partner countries in five sectors: agriculture, coal mines, landfills, oil and other natural gas systems and wastewater.
GMI, in cooperation with the government of Poland, is hosting a partnership-wide meeting in Krakow, October 12-14, 2011. Technical and policy-specific topics will be discussed; sector-specific subcommittee discussions will also take place, along with tours and networking events.
Raleigh, North Carolina
In addition to multiple federal incentive programs for developers of anaerobic digestion (AD) projects, North Carolina offers several that are specific to projects in that state. The Energy Improvement Loan Program (EILP) provides low-interest loans for onsite renewable energy electricity generation. Low interest (1%-3%) loans of up to $500,000 may be used to support capital improvement projects that utilize existing reliable and commercially available technologies, including AD. The time period of the loan equals the average payback time of the project, calculated from the avoided utility costs and limited to a 10-year maximum term. Eligible parties comprise livestock producers, commercial/industrial/small businesses, educational institutions, local governments and nonprofits. Qualifying projects must also meet federal and state air and water quality standards and demonstrate energy efficiency, use of renewable energy resources, energy cost savings or reduced energy demand. Loans are secured by a bank letter-of-credit. More details are at
The North Carolina Green Business Fund provides funding to encourage development and commercialization of renewable energy and green building technologies by small businesses. Grants of up to $100,000 are available for development of commercial innovations and application of clean renewable energy technologies in the private sector. Grants may target renewable energy deployment, biomass energy projects, waste reclamation for energy, implementation of energy efficiency technologies and clean distributed generation infrastructure improvements. Learn more at
NC GreenPower Production Incentives offers payments for electricity generated by agricultural waste, animal waste and biomass resources that can be delivered to North Carolina’s electrical grid. The incentives, which include payments from utility power purchase agreements (PPA), are made on a per-kilowatt-hour basis and vary by technology. Projects participate in a rolling bid process. Generators are required to enter into a PPA with their utility and with NC GreenPower. Customer-generators that net meter are not eligible to participate in the program. Find out more at
North Carolina’s Renewable Energy Tax Credit provides a tax credit of 35 percent of the cost of the renewable energy property constructed, purchased or leased. Renewable energy costs eligible under the tax credit include design, equipment, construction and installation. Any other funding assistance received must be subtracted from the total eligible cost. No equipment related to collecting, handling, storing and transporting of biomass (e.g., manure) prior to its placement in the onsite biomass processing equipment is eligible. The tax credit cap for biomass applications is $2.5 million and is available to livestock producers and commercial/industrial/small businesses. More details at
Madison, Wisconsin
A paper published in Environmental Science & Technology in July entitled “Contribution of Anaerobic Digesters [AD] to Emissions Mitigation and Electricity Generation Under U.S. Climate Policy” explores the potential, as well as economic and policy incentives, for facilitating deployment of these energy from organics recycling projects. The study led by University of Wisconsin and MIT researchers addresses the fact that current livestock husbandry practices in the U.S contribute significantly to environmental problems – including the release of methane into the atmosphere – while AD projects break down and capture the related organics for collection of methane for energy while reducing pathogens and odors and producing less-volatile by-products that can be land-applied as fertilizer.
While there are only about 170 farm digester projects in the U.S. – largely due to capital costs – the report states that they become competitive based on results from the MIT Emissions Prediction and Policy Analysis (EPPA) model that factors in revenues from the sale of electricity and methane mitigation credits under a U.S. climate stabilization policy. The technology becomes more attractive as the cost of producing electricity from fossil fuels increases, the report states, ultimately concluding that processing cattle, swine and poultry manure have the potential to generate 5.5 percent of domestic electricity by 2050.
The authors set out to investigate how the current environmental burdens of livestock husbandry could be reduced through a climate policy that provided incentives to anaerobic digesters. “The report acknowledges other policy tools, such as feed-in tariffs that might also be able to provide similar amounts of low-carbon electricity and reduction of methane emissions from manure management,” says David Zaks, lead author of the study. “With the provision of incentives, climate benefits are realized in addition to potential improvements in air and water quality, weed seed destruction and reduction in pathogens.” Zaks points out that the suite of benefits makes ADs more competitive when the nonmarket benefits are included in full-cost accounting metrics.

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