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Online AgSTAR Digest: Fall 2007

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AgSTAR has been busy updating and creating two informational resources to further assist in the planning and development of digester systems. The revised Industry Directory for On-Farm Biogas Recovery Systems includes the most up-to-date contact information for designers, project developers, energy service providers, equipment manufacturers and distributors, and commodity organizations. In addition to this update, AgSTAR has started a new organization list to provide contact information for state energy offices, USDA field offices, university programs, and non-government organizations that can provide technical, financial, and planning assistance to projects.

Anaerobic Digesters Continue Growth in U.S. Livestock Market

At its 2007 National Conference, AgSTAR is releasing its annual overview (PDF, 2 pp., 174 KB, About PDF) of U.S. operating anaerobic digester systems on livestock farms. AgSTAR has continued to see a trend in construction of these systems. Altogether, ASTAR has documented 111 operating systems, which produce 215 million kilowatt-hours equivalent of useable energy. Approximately 80 percent are located on dairy operations in the Midwest, West, and Northeast. An updated list of these operating systems can be found on AgSTAR's webpage, "Guide to Anaerobic Digesters."

Farm Bill Grants for Anaerobic Digesters Awarded

Section 9006 of the 2002 Farm Bill established the Renewable Energy Systems and Energy Efficiency Improvements Program–authorizing U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) loans, loan guarantees, and grants to farmers, ranchers, and rural small businesses to purchase renewable energy systems. On September 20, 2007, USDA announced that it has chosen 345 proposals in 37 states to receive a total of $18.2 million for renewable energy and energy efficiency projects. The list of approved anaerobic digester (AD) projects includes:

2007 Awardee Type Farm Location Head Digester Gas Use*
Fiscalini Farm Dairy Modesto, CA 1,500 lactating Complete mix Electricity
Big Town Ag, Inc. Beef/Hogs Reynolds, IN 5,400 beef
800 sow
3,600 finish
Plug flow Electricity
Kilby's Inc. Dairy Colora, MD 440 lactating Covered lagoon Electricity
Still Meadow Dairy Dairy Como, TX 2,500 lactating Plug flow Electricity
Walker Farms Dairy Fort Ann, NY 1,100 lactating Complete mix Electricity

Some provisions of the 2002 Farm Bill are set to expire this year, so Congress is now writing a new Farm Bill. The House of Representatives has passed HR 2149 (their version of the 2007 Farm Bill), which includes reauthorization of Section 9006 through fiscal year 2012. The Senate has been debating its version of the bill during November. For more information about the renewable energy sections of the 2007 Farm Bill proposals, review Congress Research Services' report, Renewable Energy Policy in the 2007 Farm Bill (PDF) (17 pp, 177K), which was released on August 17, 2007.

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Digester Project News

Using biogas decreases greenhouse gas emissions, produces renewable energy, and safeguards local air and water quality. The EPA is pleased to see the St. Anthony dairy digester come on line—it's good for the environment and farmers.

—Wayne Nastri, U.S. EPA, Administrator, Pacific Southwest Region

St. Anthony Farm Anaerobic Digester Operational

On September 25, 2007, St. Anthony Farm in Sonoma County, California, unveiled a new biodigester that will convert manure from the farm's 240-cow organic dairy into usable energy. At the heart of the system is a 27,000-square-foot covered lagoon digester. Flushed manure (54,000 gallons), along with wastewater from the recently constructed milk processing center (1,500 gallons), will be pumped daily to the new 2.3-million-gallon lagoon. In the lagoon, anaerobic microbial activity will convert organic matter into 17,000 cubic feet per day of methane-rich biogas. The gas will then be channeled into a pipeline, where it will be transported to an 80-kilowatt generator, which will operate approximately 12 hours per day. The electricity generated will provide a substantial portion of the electric requirements of the dairy milking center and process plant. Additionally, the heat from the generator engine and exhaust system will be captured and used to produce hot water for St. Anthony Farm.

Wayne Nastri, EPA's regional administrator for the Pacific Southwest, presents an AgSTAR Partnership sign to Rev. John Hardin of St. Anthony Farm.

Wayne Nastri, EPA's regional administrator for the Pacific Southwest, presents an AgSTAR Partnership sign to Rev. John Hardin of St. Anthony Farm.

Source: St. Anthony Foundation, "St. Anthony Farm Unveils Biodigester to Turn Poop into Power," September 25, 2007.

den Dulk Dairy Constructing Anaerobic Digester System

Construction is almost complete on an AD system at the den Dulk Dairy Farm in Ravenna Township, Michigan. The system was created by Grand Valley State University's Michigan Alternative and Renewable Energy Center (MAREC). Under construction since February, MAREC's project should be operational by the end of the year. It will use an EnTec Biogas system from Austria. "This is the first EnTec system to be built in the United States," stated Sarah Lineberry, Biomass Project Manager at the MAREC. "It has a continuous stir tank reactor, which is critical to yielding a high biogas production rate, and a hydrogen sulfide scrubber that uses a proprietary bacterial technology." The scrubber will be installed between the digester and the gas holding tank.

The plant is designed to handle manure from 1,000 of den Dulk's 3,000 dairy cows. The farm plans to use the biogas to fuel a microturbine and a reciprocating internal combustion engine at separate locations to produce electricity and hot water for the dairy operations. Some of the biogas will fuel a boiler to produce the heat needed by the digester plant itself. As a whole, the digester plant is rated at 110 kilowatts of electricity and 140 kilowatts of heat energy for heating water. The farm plans to dry out the solid material taken from the tank to use as bedding for the cows. MAREC received a $1 million alternative energy grant from the Michigan Public Service Commission for the project; the farm itself will contribute another $1.7 million.

Sources: "Methane Digesters Installed Coast to Coast," In Business, November-December 2006, and Linda Paige, "Anaerobic Digester, What It Is and How It Helps," WZZM13 News, July 19, 2007.

Wenning Poultry Breaks Ground for AD System

Wenning Poultry in Mercer County, Ohio, is constructing an AD system to generate 1.8 megawatts of electricity from biogas produced from the manure of 750,000 laying hens. The manure holding area—205 feet long, 72 feet wide, and 16 feet deep—is completely excavated. The manure will flow into the vessel and stay there for approximately 20 days to allow bacteria to produce a biogas (56 percent methane) that will then be used to generate the electricity in three 600-kilowatt engine-generator sets. Waste heat, in the form of hot water, will be collected for digester heating and may be used for heating and for in-floor heating on the farm, as required. GHD Associates, Inc. designed the digester system and WAB Associates is installing it. USDA provided a $500,000 Section 9006 Farm Bill grant for the project, which is estimated to cost more than $2 million. All electricity generated will be purchased by Buckeye Power under a ten-year cost-based agreement that includes the renewable attributes. The project is expected to be operational in December.

Sources: Kay Louth, "Area Firm Pursues Bio-Gas Generator," The Evening Leader, August 2007, and Midwest Electric, "Midwest to Buy Bio-Power from Poultry," August 20, 2007.

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AgSTAR Presents at International Symposium

On September 15-19, 2007, AgSTAR participated in the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers' (ASABE's) International Symposium on Air Quality and Waste Management for Agriculture, which was held in Colorado. Representing AgSTAR was Hall Associates' Dr. John H. Martin, who presented two papers. Below is the abstract for each paper:

The complete papers, the ASERTTI protocol, and other mass balance waste management evaluations are posted in the technical resources section of the AgSTAR website. Other papers from the conference or papers on similar topics can be found in the ASABE online Technical Library.

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NYSERDA to Evaluate Projects with New Protocol

The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) plans to evaluate New York AD projects using the new Protocol for Quantifying and Reporting the Performance of Anaerobic Digestion Systems for Livestock Manure. AgSTAR, ASERTTI, and USDA jointly developed the protocol, which was released in January 2007. The goals of NYSERDA's evaluation of the farms are to collect information about:

Farms participating in the evaluation include AA Dairy Farm (Candor, New York), Emerling Farms (Perry, New York), New Hope View Farm (Homer, New York), Noblehurst Farms (Linwood, New York), Patterson Dairy Farm (Auburn, New york), Ridgeline Farm (Clymer, New York), Sheland Farms (Adams, New York), and Sunny Knoll Farms (Perry, New York). Additional farms are under consideration.

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Massachusetts Farm Energy Program

To help Massachusetts farmers in their energy efficiency and renewable energy efforts, a Massachusetts Farm Energy Program will be developed with funding from USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service and the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources. The statewide program will last for two years and develop a streamlined process for energy efficiency audits and renewable energy assessments for Massachusetts agricultural producers. The program plans to provide incentives for farms to adopt energy recommendations and will develop the potential for rebates and future investment in on-farm energy projects. Interested farmers are encouraged to contact Darlene Monds (darlene.monds@ma.usda.gov), Coordinator, Berkshire-Pioneer Resource Conservation and Development Area, Inc., at 413-256-1607 x1.

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Funding Opportunities

Wisconsin Dairy Farm Anaerobic Digester Grant, Deadline: December 31, 2007

Focus on Energy, a public-private partnership in Wisconsin, aims to promote energy efficiency and renewable energy, improve the environment, and ensure the future supply of energy in the state. Currently Focus on Energy is offering competitive grants of up to $250,000 for the installation of a commercially available AD system at eligible Wisconsin dairy farms. Eligible systems can produce energy in the form of electricity, thermal energy, or biogas. The actual grant award is based on an estimate of the quantity of electricity, utilized heat, and/or biogas for sale that the AD system will produce in one year. These grants cannot exceed 25 percent of the cost of the digester system.

USDA Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education, Deadlines: November and December 2007

USDA administers the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) Program in four regions: North Central, Northeast, South, and West. Each region administers separate grant programs with its own priorities and audiences.

SARE regional map

Each SARE region sets policies and goals, makes funding decisions, and administers grant projects.

The North Central, Northeast, South, and West regions have issued their call for proposals for selected grants. Potential grants available (though not necessarily in all regions) include:

For examples of awarded proposals, review SARE's national database, which features project summaries.

Progress Energy Carolinas, Inc., Deadline: January 1, 2008

Progress Energy Carolinas (PEC) is seeking proposals for energy from renewable resources. PEC currently estimates the need to purchase up to 1,000,000 MWhs of energy from renewable resources, which includes biomass from agricultural, animal, and wood waste. Preference will be given to proposals involving solar resources that will be in service by January 1, 2010, and projects that are fueled by swine or poultry litter.

South Carolina Renewable Energy Grant Program, Deadline: January 4, 2008

The South Carolina Department of Agriculture (SCDA) and the South Carolina Energy Office (SCEO) are requesting proposals for grants under the South Carolina Renewable Energy Infrastructure Development Fund. SCDA and SCEO will consider projects and activities from various renewable energy sources, including biomass. Grants are available in three categories: planning grants to develop proposals, matching grants for research and development, and matching grants for demonstration projects.

Duke Energy Indiana, Deadline: January 15, 2008

Duke Energy Indiana, Inc. is seeking requests for proposals (RFPs) for a supply portfolio of energy and generation capacity generated from renewable and/or environmentally friendly sustainable sources of "green energy" power. Biomass and biogas digesters are among the eligible "green energy" power resources. Duke is looking for up to 200 megawatts by 2011, and preference will be given to resources located within Indiana.

Farm Pilot Project Coordination, Inc., Deadline: January 15, 2008

Farm Pilot Project Coordination (FPPC) is a non-profit organization that addresses the growing waste issues associated with animal feeding operations. FPPC has issued an RFP for animal waste treatment projects and innovative technology systems. Eligible projects must result in a 75 percent or greater removal, or redistribution of nutrients in waste streams.

Springer Electric Cooperative, Inc, Deadline: February 4, 2008

Springer Electric Cooperative, Inc, is seeking proposals (PDF) (19 pp, 75K) for a supply portfolio of energy and capacity generated from new (placed in service on or after July 1, 2009) renewable or existing green power sources in New Mexico, including both biomass and biogas digesters. Springer is seeking up to 500 kilowatts of capacity by July 2009 to help meet its renewable portfolio standards (RPS) requirements.

NYSERDA PON 1146, Deadline: May 30, 2009

To expand the supply of clean energy, NYSERDA has issued Program Opportunity Notice (PON) 1146 to offer $11 million in incentives for electricity generation using AD gas produced from manure, food wastes, municipal wastewater, and other biomass feedstocks. Incentives will be offered based on kilowatt capacity of biogas and the kilowatt hours actually generated each year for three years. The program is part of the new Customer-Sited Tier (CST) of the state's RPS. Details regarding PON 1146, including eligibility and application requirements, are posted on NYSERDA's funding opportunities Web page.

Minnesota Digester Loan Program, Deadline: Applications Accepted on a Rolling Basis

The Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) Methane Digester Loan Program helps livestock producers install ADs on their farms by providing zero-interest loans to eligible borrowers. (For example, the Haubenschild Dairy Farm received a $150,000 zero-interest loan for construction of its AD.) The loan program is administered through the Minnesota Rural Finance Authority, which may make a direct loan or act as a participant in the loan with an eligible lender. The borrower must be a Minnesota resident, a Minnesota domestic family-farm corporation, or a family-farm partnership. State participation is limited to 45 percent of the loan principal in the case of participation loans and may not exceed $250,000 for either participation or direct loans. For more information about the program or other eligibility requirements, review Frequently Asked Questions about MDA's Methane Digester Program.

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Upcoming Events

National Livestock and Poultry Environmental Learning Center
Third Friday of each month at 2:30 pm (eastern)

2007 AgSTAR National Conference
November 27-28, 2007
Sacramento, California
The conference is a must for livestock producers, project developers, regulators, energy professionals, financiers, and others interested in manure digesters and energy projects. The conference is a great place to learn, identify potential projects, and network with others in the industry.

Innovative Manure Treatment Technologies Being Evaluated Through the Small Business Innovation Research Program
December 21, 2007
The Livestock and Poultry Environmental Learning Center is hosting an online presentation by Richard Hegg, USDA Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service. He'll present an overview of the Small Business Innovation Research program, whose goal is to kick-start promising manure treatment technologies for development in the private sector. Presentations from some of the project's success stories will also be included.

Fort Wayne Farm Show
January 15-18, 2008
Ft. Wayne, Indiana
The Fort Wayne Farm Show will include seminars on various topics related to the agriculture industry. Two sessions of interest may be state government initiatives for alternative energy and digester developer Environmental Power's discussion on farm energy generation.

2008 Pork Congress
January 23-24, 2008
Des Moines, Iowa
The 2008 Pork Congress includes various seminars, events, and a tradeshow all related to the swine industry.

Smart Energy Management in Agriculture
January 24-27, 2008
Pacific Grove, California
The Smart Energy Management in Agriculture conference is three days of workshops on energy-related topics, including energy efficiency, solar power, biofuels, and updates on current incentives and financing programs for alternative energy.

8th Annual Harvesting Clean Energy Conference
January 27-29, 2008
Portland, Oregon
The 8th Annual Harvesting Clean Energy Conference will bring agriculture and clean energy production together to advance opportunities for rural economic development. Biogas digestion is one of the in-depth tracks on the agenda. If you would like to meet with AgSTAR at the event, please contact Chris Voell (voell.christopher@epa.gov), LMOP, at 202-343-9406.

Next Generation Ag Energy: Policies to Advance Regional Growth
February 5-6, 2008
Madison, Wisconsin
The Midwest Agriculture Energy Network developed this event as an opportunity to bring agriculture and commodity leaders together to discuss how farm policy can propel forward the agricultural sector as an energy producer. Session topics include: renewable energy portfolio standards, carbon cap and trade systems, and related federal legislation.

World Ag Expo
February 12-14, 2008
Tulare, California
The World Ag Expo provides seminars on topics like alternative fuels for the agriculture industry, farm policy, and much more. It also includes a tradeshow that brings buyers and sellers together under one roof.

46th Annual Rural Energy Conference
February 27-28, 2008
LaCrosse, Wisconsin
This year's Rural Energy Conference will include two days filled with informative workshops from rural energy professionals. Topics being discussed will recent trends in electric distribution technology, distributed generation, interconnection, and renewable energy portfolio standards.

SARE's 20th Anniversary Conference: The New American Farm: Advancing the Frontier of Sustainable Agriculture
March 25-27, 2008
Kansas City, Missouri
USDA's Sustainable Agriculture Resource and Education's (SARE) conference on sustainable agriculture will cover topics such as energy efficiency and renewables.

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Online Resources

Anaerobic Digestion Projects Discussed at Biocycle Conference

On October 1-2, 2007, AgSTAR attended the 7th Annual BioCycle Conference on Renewable Energy from Organics Recycling, held in Indianapolis, Indiana. Session topics included:

Presentations from the event are available on BioCycle's website.

Updated FarmWare Version 3.1 Available

FarmWare is an analytical tool designed to provide a preliminary assessment on the feasibility of integrating AD into an existing or planned manure management system. The new version contains updated computations for biogas energy generation and revenues from on-site electricity use. The software can be downloaded free at the AgSTAR website.

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State Policy Updates

North Carolina

In July 2007, North Carolina made permanent its ban on the construction of manure lagoons. Included in the Swine Farm Environmental Performance Standards Act (S. 1465) is the Lagoon Conversion Program, which establishes a voluntary cost-share program to assist swine farmers in converting existing lagoons to innovative waste management systems. Priority shall be given to systems that are affordable, easily maintained, produce marketable by-products, reduce or eliminate the emission of ammonia and greenhouse gases, and are capable of being connected to a centralized waste collection and treatment system. The North Carolina Division of Soil and Water Conservation will administer the program, which in the initial years of the program can provide grants of up to 90 percent of project costs, or a maximum of $500,000. The Act also establishes a Swine Farm Methane Capture Pilot Program. The program, which will be administered jointly by the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources and the North Carolina Utilities Commission (NCUC), is available for up to 50 swine farms. Each public utility that services a swine farm that is selected for participation must purchase the electricity generated for seven years at a price, not to exceed $0.18 per kilowatt, established by the NCUC.

Source: North Carolina General Assembly, Senate Bill 1465—Swine Farm Environmental Performance Standards Act, version 7, August 31, 2007.

RPS is a policy tool that sets a requirement for retail sellers of electricity to provide a minimum portion of their electricity portfolio from renewable resources.

In August 2007, North Carolina became the twenty-fifth state and the first state in the Southeast to require electric utilities to use renewable energy sources to help meet the state's energy demand. The RPS will require Progress Energy and Duke Energy to meet 12.5 percent of their retail electricity demand through eligible renewable energy by 2021. In meeting the 12.5 percent requirement, the legislation sets specific requirements for production of electricity from swine and poultry waste starting in 2012. Electric cooperatives and municipal utilities must meet similar, but lower, targets. The NCUC is establishing an expedited schedule for establishing the rules for the RPS.

Source: Sam Watson, "Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Portfolio Standard in North Carolina," (PPT) presentation at Manufacturers and Chemical Industry Council of North Carolina Annual Meeting, September 24, 2007.


In May 2007, Oregon enacted RPS legislation that requires Oregon's largest utilities to obtain 25 percent of their electricity from renewable energy sources by 2025. Smaller utilities have a target of either 5 or 10 percent, depending on their percent of the state's electricity demand load. Eligible renewable resources include AD. The legislation also established a goal that by 2025 at least 8 percent of Oregon's retail electrical load be generated from small-scale renewable energy projects with a capacity of 20 megawatts or less.

Source: North Carolina State University, "Oregon—Renewable Portfolio Standard," Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency (DSIRE), June 8, 2007.

NW Natural, a natural gas utility, won approval from the Oregon Public Utility Commission to initiate a program to support the development of cow manure into electricity or natural gas. Customers in Oregon can choose to pay $6 a month or pay a variable fee based on their gas use to offset their generation of greenhouse gases by purchasing methane reduction credits from The Climate Trust. The Climate Trust is a Portland-based nonprofit that will help establish several AD sites in Oregon to reduce methane emissions to generate the offsets. NW Natural expects 3 to 4 percent of its 590,000 Oregon customers to participate, raising $3.3 million over the life of the 5-year pilot program.

Source: Scott Learn and Gail Hill, "Gas Utility Now Offers Moo-Power Options," The Oregonian, September 6, 2007.

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Methane to Markets

The Methane to Markets Partnership Expo, held October 30-November 1, 2007, was the first international forum promoting methane recovery and use project opportunities and technologies. The event, held in Beijing, China attracted more than 700 participants from 34 countries, demonstrating widespread international interest and commitment to a growing public-private partnership that cuts potent greenhouse gas emissions while promoting the use of clean energy.

The agriculture sector track agenda included an introduction to anaerobic digestion systems that describe the technologies being applied, the policy barriers, and how the barriers were being overcome. Additionally, project case studies from around the world and the current status of digester implementation in Partner countries were discussed. Presentations from the event will be available in December on the Methane to Markets website.

The Partnership Expo also highlighted project opportunities in all four Methane to Markets sectors. The agriculture sector presented 24 potential projects from four different countries. These project opportunities are posted on the Methane to Markets Expo webpage.

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