Online AgSTAR Digest: Summer 2012
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Save the Date!
AgSTAR is excited to announce that its 2013 conference will be June 11-12, 2013 in Indianapolis, Indiana. In addition to the conference, a tour of Fair Oaks Farm’s innovative biogas projects will be offered on June 10. Stay tuned in the coming months for more information about the conference including speaking, exhibiting, and support opportunities.
- Biogas Floats to Top of Agenda at Technology Market Summit
- From Purple Mountains to Amber Waves
- Higher Education Web Page Highlights Anaerobic Digestion Research
- We Think You’ll “Like” EPA’s Interactive Waste to Biogas Mapping Tool
- Step Right Up to the Greatest Show . . .
- Ohio State University to Educate Students on Biogas
- New Anaerobic Digester Systems
- Will Anaerobic Digestion Work at Lofty Acres or Trillium Hill?
- What’s Happening in Your Region?
- Transitions within AgSTAR
- Policy Updates
- Global Methane Initiative
- Online Resources
- Funding Opportunities
- Upcoming Events
Biogas Floats to Top of Agenda at Technology Market Summit
Cabinet and Industry Leaders Discuss Potential for Growth and Development of Biogas Industry and Technology at National Gathering
Top Cabinet, industry, and academic leaders as well as hundreds of stakeholders gathered in Washington, D.C., on May 14, 2012, at the 2012 Technology Market Summit to explore technology, policy, and finance issues related to new technologies that can grow the economy while also improving the environment. U.S. EPA and American University, the Summit’s hosts, convened an expert panel of guest speakers and invitees to cover three focal areas, one of which was biogas and biodigesters.
Experts from the City of Philadelphia Water Department, Duke University, the American Biogas Council, the Climate Trust, and the U.S. Department of Energy made presentations to the biogas workgroup on successful programs that illustrated the potential energy and environmental benefits associated with anaerobic digester systems. EPA unveiled the Primer for Biodigesters and Biogas, which provides an overview of the biogas industry and potential solutions for its growth. This resource as well as videos and presentations from the biogas and plenary sessions are available online.
From Purple Mountains to Amber Waves
Updated Inventory of Digesters Shows Electricity Being Produced Across the Nation
The map of the nation just turned a shade greener, according to at least one indicator. Five new anaerobic digester systems came online since March 2012, bringing the nation’s total inventory of systems to nearly 200. Most of these operate at commercial livestock farms and collectively are expected to produce about 570,000 megawatt-hours (MWh) of clean, “renewable” electricity each year, according to AgSTAR’s June 2012 Digester Database. Together, these systems generate enough energy to power nearly 50,000 homes!
Only 15 states remain without systems in the database. Regardless of where you operate, if you have updates or corrections regarding your farm digester project(s), please contact AgSTAR by August 24, 2012, so we can include you in our next update.
Higher Education Web Page Highlights Anaerobic Digestion Research
Colleges and universities across the country are doing great work to advance the use of anaerobic digesters on farms. AgSTAR has put together a sample of research being conducted at the college and university level, including pilot studies, evaluations, and technical assistance, on the new Research Web page. If you would like your school’s research added or have updated information, please contact AgSTAR.
We Think You’ll “Like” EPA’s Interactive Waste to Biogas Mapping Tool
Facebook and Twitter aren’t the only interactive games in town. EPA’s Pacific Southwest Region is proud to announce an online and interactive map to help anaerobic digestion facilities connect with livestock producers, food processors, and other organic waste sources. Use these new connections to enhance energy production at your biogas recovery system or find a facility to accept your waste!
Launched in June 2012, the Waste to Biogas Mapping Tool helps decision-makers with technical expertise in the fields of waste management, wastewater treatment, and renewable energy to see what types of facilities are in their area, where clusters are located, and the distance between a waste producer and an anaerobic digester. Whether you are looking to develop a new facility or find an existing one to take your current wastes, this tool provides invaluable assistance.
Step Right Up to the Greatest Show . . .
Anaerobic Digesters Now On Exhibit
The Human Body? Pompeii? The Rainforest? Forget those old, has-been exhibitions and check out what’s hot at science museums in Boston and Chicago: anaerobic digesters! Chicago’s Museum of Science and Technology features anaerobic digestion in its Farm Tech exhibit, where visitors can see how farmers turn manure into power. At Boston’s Museum of Science, museum goers are flocking to Energized!—an exhibit that covers anaerobic digestion with videos and interactive displays, including one on Vermont’s Cow Power Program, which is now run by Green Mountain Power, which merged with Central Vermont Public Service in June 2012.
Ohio State University to Educate Students on Biogas
This fall, Ohio State University has started offering an Associate of Science degree in renewable energy. The program offers bioenergy classes that focus on the generation of biogas from organic material from agricultural, industrial, and municipal byproducts and waste. Students enrolled will have the opportunity to gain hands-on experience through the school’s renewable energy laboratory, which has small-scale digesters as well as a fully-operational, 555,000 gallon digester, owned by quasar energy group.
New Anaerobic Digester Systems
In April 2012, Link Energy, LLC completed installation of a new anaerobic digester at Linkenmeyer Family Feeders in Riceville. Link Energy, LLC developed the project and DVO, Inc. designed the mixed plug flow digester, which provides 600 kilowatts (kW) of generating capacity. The farm feeds the digester with manure from its 5,000 cattle and 4,000 hogs. The farm is selling the electricity produced to Dairyland Power Cooperative for distribution to its customers. The project was made possible by grants and loans with USDA Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) funding. The program provided the farm with a $500,000 grant and $500,000 in loan guarantees to purchase and install the anaerobic digester.
Sources: John McWilliams (Dairyland Power Cooperative), 2012; USDA, “Agriculture Secretary Vilsack Announces $62.5 Million for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Loans and Grants,” September 24, 2009.
In June 2012, two farms in Harnett County began using anaerobic digesters to capture the biogas produced from their already installed covered lagoons. Butler Farms, in Lillington, installed a mesophilic digester to gather waste from the farm’s more than 8,000 swine. The biogas captured is expected to generate about 1,500 MWh of electricity annually. The digester system at nearby Black Farms consists of two covered lagoons from which biogas is captured to generate nearly 350 MWh of electricity annually. The farm uses waste from its 6,000 swine to feed the digester. Both farms are interconnected with South River Electric Membership Corporation’s electric system, which purchases the electricity to sell to its customers.
Source: South River Electric Membership Corporation, “Harnett Swine Farmers Generating More Than Hog Waste,” June 7, 2012.
In April 2012, Mill Creek Dairy in West Unity completed installation of its anaerobic digester. The complete mix digester, designed by RCM International, LLC, uses manure from the farm’s nearly 1,800 cows as well as offsite food waste to produce biogas. The biogas generates 425 kW of electricity. The project was made possible with a $500,000 grant from Ohio’s Department of Development Biomass Waste to Energy Program as well as nearly $500,000 in grants and $600,000 in loan guarantees from USDA REAP.
Sources: Angela McEliece (RCM International, LLC), 2012; Ohio’s County Journal, “Ohio Biodigesters get a Boost with USDA Funding,” October 26, 2011.
In April 2012, the anaerobic digestion system in Haviland also became operational. The system was developed by a partnership between quasar energy group and Haviland Plastic Products. A waste hauler supplies the digester with 92 wet tons per day of mixed biomass, including manure that comes from Van Erk Dairy’s more than 1,000 cows. The complete mix digester fuels a 1 megawatt (MW) Guascor engine-genset. The system is interconnected to American Electric Power, where the electricity is sold directly to Haviland Plastic Products. The effluent from the digester is applied to the land at regional farms for its fertilizer value. This project was made possible from a $1 million grant from the Ohio Department of Development’s Transforming Waste to Value State Energy Program as well as support from USDA REAP.
Sources: Caroline Henry (quasar energy group), 2012; USDA, “Agriculture Secretary Vilsack Announces Funding to Produce Renewable Energy for Rural Communities and Reduce Energy Costs for Small Businesses and Farms in Eight States,” October 26, 2011.
In July 2012, Farm Power’s Tillamook anaerobic digester became fully operational. Farm Power began construction of the multi-farm project in September 2011. The digester, designed by DVO, Inc. and built by Andgar Corporation, is able to accept manure from up to 2,000 cows. The resulting biogas generates 1 MW of energy. The electricity generated is sold through a power purchase agreement with Tillamook People’s Utility District. The project was made possible with the help of a $100,000 grant and $2.65 million in loan guarantees from USDA REAP.
Sources: Farm Power, “Tillamook Site Construction Progress”; Denise Porter, “Work on Digester May Start in Spring,” Tillamook Headlight Herald, February 9, 2012; Farm Energy.org, “With Help From REAP, 16 New Digesters Will Turn Waste Into Clean Energy,” October 26, 2011; Andgar Corporation, “Farm Power—Tillamook LLC.”
In April 2012, Peters Farm in Chaseburg began using its new anaerobic digester. The farm uses manure from its 200 cows to feed a 45 kW digester. This digester project represents the first small-scale use of an anaerobic digester system in the region. The Universal Sanitary Equipment Manufacturing Company (USEMCO), based out of Tomah, Wisconsin, developed the digester system specifically to handle small-herd operations like Peters Farm. The farm sells the electricity to Dairyland Electric Cooperative for distribution to its customers.
Source: John McWilliams (Dairyland Power Cooperative), 2012.
Will Anaerobic Digestion Work at Lofty Acres or Trillium Hill?
USDA-Funded Feasibility Studies to Find Out
In June 2012, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that USDA will fund feasibility studies to determine whether an anaerobic digestion system would work on two farms in Wisconsin. Lofty Acres, Inc. in Glenwood City received more than $11,000, and Trillium Hill Farm Biofuels, LLC in Berlin received $2,000. In all, USDA funded 450 projects nationwide that will reduce energy consumption and costs, use renewable energy technologies in their operation, and/or conduct feasibility studies for renewable energy projects. Funding is made available through USDA REAP, which is authorized by the 2008 Farm Bill.
Sources: USDA, “Agriculture Secretary Vilsack Announces Funding for Projects to Boost Renewable Energy Production, Reduce Energy Consumption,” June 25, 2012; USDA, “Recipient List (PDF) (11 pp, 186K),” June 25, 2012.
What’s Happening in Your Region?
In Illinois, EPA Region 5 has been busy working with its state and federal partners as well as local electric cooperatives to explore the use of anaerobic digestion as a manure management tool on dairy farms. In conjunction with the state’s Bureau of Water, EPA regional staff have been meeting with interested dairy farmers located in two counties to discuss non-energy environmental benefits, feasibility study objectives, and funding opportunities for feasibility studies and construction of anaerobic digestion systems. The next step is to assess the possibility of a community anaerobic digester project or a centrally located energy generation station with local farms operating smaller anaerobic digestion systems.
In February 2012, three Biogas Renewable Energy Combined Heat and Power Projects workshops were held in Breese, Effingham, and Macomb, Illinois. The U.S. Department of Energy’s Midwest Clean Energy Application Center organized the workshops in partnership with the Association of Illinois Electric Cooperatives. The workshops introduced livestock producers to anaerobic digesters as a means of meeting compliance regulations and producing biogas to generate electricity and thermal energy. Approximately 130 attendees participated in the three workshops, including nearly 55 livestock producers. Workshop information, including presentations, is available on the Midwest Clean Energy Application Center’s News & Events Web page.
In June 2012, Cara Peck, from EPA’s regional office in San Francisco, was at the Robert Giacomini Dairy farm in Point Reyes Station, California, to help showcase its anaerobic digestion system. The system has been producing renewable energy continuously since June 2009. Electricity generated by the digester system is used to power dairy operations as well as onsite cheese-making operations at the family’s Point Reyes Farmstead Cheese Company. Hot water is also recaptured from the system and used both in the milk parlor and in the cheese plant, saving the dairy farm approximately $1,000 a month on propane costs.
Transitions within AgSTAR
With a sad goodbye, AgSTAR wishes Chris Voell the best in his new position as Eastern Sales Manager for BioCNG™ (part of Cornerstone Environmental Group, LLC). During his past 10 years with EPA, Chris played an important role in helping to advance landfill gas and farm anaerobic digester projects. He is excited about the opportunity to continue his work in advancing biogas usage.
Additionally, AgSTAR is happy to announce that Caitlin Stormont will be joining the program for the next six months. Caitlin comes to AgSTAR on an appointment to the Research Participation/Internship Program at EPA, administered by the Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education (ORISE) through an interagency agreement between the U.S. Department of Energy and EPA.
Prior to joining EPA’s AgSTAR team, Caitlin participated in ORISE appointments with EPA’s Greenhouse Gas Reporting Branch and EPA’s Office of Ground Water and Drinking Water. She attended Juniata College where she studied Environmental Science and earned a Bachelor’s degree in 2010.
In May 2012, Vermont’s 2012 Energy Bill expanded the state’s Clean Local Energy Accessible Now (CLEAN) Program from 50 MW to 127.5 MW. According to the recently signed bill, the capacity of any distributed generation facility that provides “sufficient benefits to the operation and management of the electric grid” as a result of its location or other characteristics will not count towards the overall program cap of 127.5 MWs. This means that there will be no limit on the amount of clean local energy that can come online from facilities providing sufficient local benefits, such as farm-digester project participating in the Cow Power program.
Sources: BioCycle, “Anaerobic Digest,” June 2012, Vol. 53, No. 6, p. 13; Alan Panebaker, “Shumlin Says Renewable Energy Program will be Good for Business,” VT Digger, May 18, 2012.
In April 2012, Wisconsin’s Public Service Commission approved a plan where technologies such as biomass and biogas will receive 75 percent of the Focus on Energy renewable resource program funding, and the rest will go to wind and solar projects. Focus on Energy is offering two separate programs for renewable energy projects:
- Prescriptive Renewable Energy Program, which is open to residential customers for prescriptive renewable energy incentives. The program budget is $0.5 million.
- Business Programs: Renewable Energy Competitive Incentive Program, which is open to businesses for installation of renewable energy systems (see Funding Opportunities for more information).
Source: Public Service Commission of Wisconsin, PSC Approves Responsible Renewables Plan (PDF) (1 pg, 25K), April 13, 2012.
Global Methane Initiative
Methane International #28 Released
The Global Methane Initiative’s (GMI’s) Methane International #28 was released in June 2012. The latest issue of Methane International highlighted new information on the Methane Expo 2013 expo and spotlighted Canada, which is hosting Methane Expo 2013. Currently, GMI is asking organizations interested in the opportunity to exhibit or sponsor (DOC) (5 pp, 181K) to submit forms to the Administrative Support Group (ASG). Additionally, if your organization is interested in having an international project opportunity (i.e., good candidate location for a biogas project) or success story showcased during Methane Expo 2013, please download the agriculture sector template (DOC) (2 pp, 50K). Completed templates should be emailed to the ASG no later than September 28, 2012, and early submission is encouraged. The edition also included an article on the successful use of plug flow (channel) digesters on Thai pig farms.
Agriculture Subcommittee Meets in Singapore
The Agriculture Subcommittee met on July 3, 2012 in Singapore. The meeting was held in conjunction with GMI’s Municipal Solid Waste and Municipal Wastewater Subcommittees as well as with the WasteMET Asia – ISWA Beacon Conference, the World Cities Summit, and Singapore International Water Week. Participants discussed the results of the subcommittee survey, the draft Statement of Purpose, and presentation topics for Methane Expo 2013. Representatives from Partner Countries such as Argentina, Ethiopia, India, Philippines, Thailand, and the United States provided updates on activities. Future subcommittee projects include compiling anaerobic digester success stories from around the world and creating a guide to incentives and policies used to promote anaerobic digesters in Partner Countries
AgSTAR Attends Conference in Denmark
In April 2012, AgSTAR Program Manager, Allison Costa, attended the Nordic Biogas Conference in Copenhagen, Denmark. The conference, organized by Energinet.dk, Danish Biogas Association, Waste Management Norway, Bionova Consulting (Finland), Sorpa (Iceland), Swedish Gas Centre, and Energigas Sverige, focused on promoting biogas production technology opportunities. During the conference, Allison Costa spoke about the AgSTAR Program and biogas trends in the United States. Presentations are available on the conference Web page.
U.S. Dairy Publishes Sustainability Report
The Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy has published its second sustainability report. The 2011 U.S. Dairy Sustainability Report (PDF) (62 pp, 9 MB) provides an industry-wide update on progress made toward their sustainability goals, including the Dairy Power™/Biogas Capture and Transport™ project. This project is increasing the use digester systems to reduce emissions and produce new sources of revenue for dairy farms. The report also mentioned the success of the 2011 Digester Finance Summit co-hosted by AgSTAR, USDA, World Wildlife Foundation, and the Innovation Center, which identified that in order to succeed on a national scale, digester projects must be profitable for all parties involved.
Finance Template Released by Environmental Finance Center
In May 2012, the University of Maryland Environmental Finance Center released a Financial Template (PDF) (43 pp, 482K), which is meant to be a guide for anyone interested in the thermochemical conversion of poultry litter to heat and/or electricity. As part of the Manure to Energy Initiative, which was funded by a USDA Conservation Innovation Grant and by a grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, with matching funds from the Chesapeake Bay Funders Network and from participating farmers and technology vendors, the document was developed to aid in the restoration of the Chesapeake Bay Watershed through identification of funding and financial resources that support poultry litter gasification projects. Many of these resources are also applicable to biogas projects and can be used as a resource to projects in the region.
EPA’s Green Power Partnership’s DSIRE Webinar
On May 8, 2012, EPA’s Green Power Partnership held a webinar that provided participants an introduction to the Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency (DSIRE). Amy Heinemann, a senior policy analyst with DSIRE, gave a presentation (PDF) (23 pp, 1.4 MB) on incentives and policies available to businesses, municipalities, institutions, and other organizations utilizing and/or generating electricity from renewable energy resources, including biogas. DSIRE is a great resource as it provides an up-to-date and comprehensive listing of state, local, utility, and federal incentives and policies that promote renewable energy and energy efficiency.
Vermont’s Department of Public Service Makes Project Reports Available
In April 2012, Green Energy Times published a list of completed projects (PDF) (2 pp, 740K) that received funding through Vermont’s Clean Energy Development Fund (CEDF) and have completed their final reports. The final reports, which include several about farm digesters, can provide useful context, information, and lessons learned. To get a copy of a report contact CEDF’s Andrew Perchlik at email@example.com.
Article Shows How a Community Worked Together to Create a Digester Project
The Qualco Energy digester, which has been in operation in Monroe, Washington since February 2009 was recently highlighted in Spawning a Solution (PDF) (48 pp, 3.7 MB) — an article from the May/June 2012 issue of USDA’s Rural Cooperatives. The digester was highlighted because it showed how a collaborative effort could help improve the environment and create a local, renewable energy source. In 2000, Qualco Energy, a nonprofit cooperative with three members (Tulalip Tribes, Northwest Chinook Recovery, and Sno/Sky Agricultural Alliance), was created and began to develop the anaerobic digester project. The project has since provided reductions in the nutrient and bacteria contamination in the watershed and is therefore helping to restore the salmon population. Currently there are three farms that ship manure to the system, and they are looking to expand the project.
Cooperative Research Network Releases Manure to Power Video
In March 2012, the Cooperative Research Network released a video showcasing Penn England Farm’s anaerobic digestion system. The farm, located in Williamsburg, Pennsylvania, began using its digester in 2006. The farm uses the excess heat produced to make hot water, which is used in the milking parlor and helps to save on heating costs. Additionally, the farm uses the solids for cow bedding. The video also showcases the relationship between the farm’s local electric cooperative, Valley Rural Electric Cooperative, and how they helped to make the project possible. The video is a great educational tool as it takes the viewer through the process of digesting manure as well as describes the process for connecting to the grid.
Focus on Energy, Deadline: August 29, 2012
Focus on Energy has issued a request for proposals (PDF) (38 pp, 516K) for the Business Programs Renewable Energy Competitive Incentive Program. Through the program, Focus on Energy intends to provide financial support to the most cost effective renewable energy projects that can be installed and are operational at eligible Customers’ facilities. A budget of up to $750,000 has been allocated for biogas, biomass and geothermal technologies, with awards expected in the range of $25,000 to $250,000.
Southern California Public Power Authority, Deadline: November 30, 2012
The Southern California Public Power Authority (SCPPA) is soliciting competitive proposals (PDF) (9 pp, 52K) for renewable energy products. SCPPA is looking for cost-effective resources to support members’ Renewable Portfolio Standard objectives. This solicitation seeks to find a combination of projects able to deliver approximately 2 million MWh per year beginning in 2014 and an additional 3 million MWh per year beginning in 2017. Eligible renewable energy resources include biogas.
Anaerobic Digestion Training Course (PDF) (2 pp, 531K)
September 6-7, 2012
The Ohio State University will hold a two-day training course on anaerobic digestion. The course will provide participants with a practical understanding of the digestion process and operational issues in the production of bioenergy from a wide range of feedstocks, including manure. The course will include a tour of quasar’s anaerobic digester on the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center’s campus in addition to informational presentations.
California Bioresources Alliance 7th Annual Symposium
September 11-12, 2012
The California Bioresources Alliance’s 2012 Annual Symposium will focus on the best ways to evaluate the feasibility of biogas and other energy projects from organic residuals. The symposium will also discuss the development of a procedure for mapping feasible projects. Sessions include the economics of digesters, evaluation of digesters and their alternatives, projects for using urban residuals for power and fuel, and use of forestry products.
From Waste to Worth: “Spreading” Science and Solutions
Call for Abstracts Deadline: September 14, 2012
April 1-3, 2013
The Livestock and Poultry Environmental Learning Center will host From Waste to Worth: "Spreading" Science and Solutions, in Denver, Colorado. The focus of this conference is to integrate research, education, and extension efforts related to managing environmental impacts of livestock and poultry production. The call for abstracts (PDF) (1 pg, 853K) is open until September 14, 2012. Abstracts should address the general theme of air, water and soil quality, water resource impacts, watershed management, research and outreach methods, or climate change.
Waste-to-Fuels Conference & Trade Show
September 16-18, 2012
The Waste-to-Fuels Conference & Trade Show will provide a forum for informing both the public and private sectors of the economic and environmental significance of converting waste materials to renewable energy and alternative fuels. Presentation topics will cover anaerobic digestion conversion technologies, converting waste into biofuels, and funding for conversion technology facilities.
September 29 - October 3, 2012
New Orleans, Louisiana
The Water Environment Federation’s Annual Technical Exhibition and Conference (WEFTEC) will bring together water quality professionals from around the world. The conference includes workshops, technical presentations, and site tours related to improving water quality. AgSTAR is presenting during a pre-conference workshop on September 28th. The presentation will include a general overview of the AgSTAR Program and how the anaerobic digestion systems can improve water quality. Contact Allison Costa (firstname.lastname@example.org; 202-343-9468) to schedule a meeting with AgSTAR during the conference.
4th Annual Biogas USA West Conference
October 10-11, 2012
San Francisco, California
The 4th Annual Biogas USA West Conference, produced by Green Power Conferences, will bring together the biogas community to share ways to enhance the profitability of new and existing projects. Topics being covered at the conference include increasing digester performance, biogas treatment and upgrading, financing biogas projects, and optimizing biogas generation from agricultural waste.
12th Annual Conference on Renewable Energy from Organics Recycling
October 29-31, 2012
St. Louis, Missouri
BioCycle is excited to host its 12th Annual Renewable Energy Conference. This comprehensive three-day conference will feature a site tour, three tracks of concurrent sessions, and a tradeshow allowing attendees to see the latest technologies available. Presentation topics will emphasize the most recent updates on technologies and practices within the renewable energy sector, including anaerobic digestion.
Methane Expo 2013
March 12-15, 2013
Methane Expo 2013, organized by GMI, is the premier international forum for promoting the recovery and use of methane through new projects and technologies. GMI Partner organization Environment Canada will be the in-country host organization. There will be five sector-specific tracks, including agriculture, which will cover key methane abatement, recovery and use technologies; policy issues; as well as strategies for overcoming barriers to project development. Currently, GMI is asking organizations interested in the opportunity to exhibit or sponsor (DOC) (5 pp, 181K) to submit forms to the ASG.
2013 AgSTAR National Conference
June 10-12, 2013
AgSTAR is excited to announce that the date for the 2013 National Conference has been set. The annual conference will focus on national developments related to biogas recovery from livestock operations. The first day of the conference will include a site tour of Fair Oaks Dairy Farms in Indiana. Stay tuned for more information about the conference including speaking, exhibiting and support opportunities.