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Online AgSTAR Digest: Spring 2014

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Anaerobic Digesters – Update

Operating AD System Designs in 2013
Pie chart of the designs of operating AD systems in 2013. 33 percent is complete mix. 32 percent is mixed plug flow. 14 percent is covered lagoon. 10 percent is horizontal plug flow. 2 percent is induced blanket reactor. All other designs make up 7 percent of the total. 2 percent of the total is unknown.

Number of AD systems in 2013 = 239

AgSTAR saw a steady trend in new anaerobic digesters reported online in 2013! After our January 2014 update, there are now 239 systems in our Project Database. We are excited to see so many farm systems succeeding and playing a vital role in our mission to reduce methane emissions from livestock waste management operations! The growth in the agricultural anaerobic digestion market has produced significant energy benefits. In 2013 alone, approximately 840.6 million kWh equivalent of energy was generated. For more accomplishments information, visit our Accomplishments.

Have updates that we should include in our 2014 Accomplishments? Contact us!


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Bacon Hill – 2013 Pork Industry Environmental Steward Award

Bacon Hill Farm in Dodge, Nebraska

Photo: Olean Energy

Bacon Hill Farm in Dodge, Nebraska was selected by the Pork Checkoff as a 2013 Pork Industry Environmental Steward. Bacon Hill uses an on-site anaerobic manure digester to produce compressed natural gas (CNG) to fuel farm trucks (80 percent compressed methane and 20 percent diesel) and farm tractors (90 percent compressed methane and 10 percent diesel). Additionally, biogas helps provide electricity to area homes. The Kluthe’s, owners of Bacon Hill, have six 1,000-head finishing barns and market about 15,000 finisher hogs annually. For more information on Bacon Hill Farm, see AgSTAR’s Project Profile.


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Partner Spotlight – A Peek into Roger Kasper’s “Behind-the-Scenes” Work at WI DATCP

Roger Kasper of the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) was awarded the Distinguished Public Service Award from RENEW Wisconsin in January for his contributions to the state’s agriculture and bioenergy industries. Specifically, he was recognized “for organizing and supporting a broad-based bioenergy constituency that was instrumental in making Wisconsin a national leader in generating biogas electricity.” AgSTAR has had the pleasure of working with Roger for several years and continues to be inspired by the information he shares and the conversations he generates. Learn more about Roger’s work in this Agri-View article.


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Project Spotlight – Ski’s Up!

Cow Power continues to shine in Vermont. Currently, 13 Vermont farms, with roughly 10,000 total dairy cows producing 300,000 gallons of manure per day, participate in the Green Mountain Power (GMP) Cow Power program. Killington Resort is enrolled in the Cow Power program and will power the K-1 Express Gondola with manure from local dairy farms. Killington Resort also offsets 100 percent of the power used at the resort with Renewable Energy Credits (RECs). Through Green Mountain Power, Killington Resort has purchased 300,000 kilowatt hours of Cow Power to run the K-1 Express Gondola year round. Killington Resort received the National Ski Area Association Golden Eagle Award in 2013 for its dedication to the environment. Learn more about Killington’s energy use.


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AgSTAR Featured in President Obama’s Climate Action Plan: Strategy to Reduce Methane Emissions

In the Climate Action Plan announced last June, President Obama directed the Administration to develop a comprehensive, interagency strategy to cut methane emissions. On March 28, 2014, the White House released the Climate Action Plan – Strategy to Reduce Methane Emissions.

The strategy summarizes the major sources of methane emissions, commits to new steps to cut emissions of this potent greenhouse gas and outlines the Administration’s efforts to improve the measurement of these emissions. The strategy builds on progress to date and takes steps to further cut methane emissions from landfills, coal mining, agriculture and oil and gas systems through cost-effective voluntary actions and common-sense standards.

The strategy includes a commitment that, “Through the AgSTAR program, EPA and USDA will continue working together to overcome barriers to expanding the use of agricultural biogas systems, and provide a forum for industry and other stakeholders to access information.” In addition, AgSTAR is also supporting the development of a “Biogas Roadmap” with USDA, EPA, DOE and the dairy industry that will outline voluntary strategies to accelerate adoption of methane digesters and other cost-effective technologies to reduce U.S. livestock sector greenhouse gas emissions.


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New Publication – Livestock and Poultry Manure Contaminants of Emerging Concern

Climate Action Plan – Strategy to Reduce Methane Emissions

In August 2013, EPA published an informational report titled, Literature Review of Contaminants in Livestock and Poultry Manure and Implications for Water Quality. This report focuses on the growing scientific information related to contaminants of emerging concern in livestock and poultry manure – particularly pathogens, antimicrobial drugs and hormones – and reviews the potential and documented human health and ecological effects associated with these manure contaminants. The report also identifies information gaps that may guide future research efforts. The report is part of EPA’s ongoing efforts to better understand the environmental occurrence and potential effects of contaminants of emerging concern.

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AgSTAR Website Under Development

The AgSTAR website continues to make improvements so that information is easier to find and the site does a better job of meeting your needs. Check back often as we roll out new content and introduce new navigation this summer and fall.

Did you know that we have more than 40 Farm Project Profiles, which were updated with new information where available and have a new look? We also added some additional items to our top navigation bar to help you find information more efficiently. Other exciting updates include:

Spend some time looking around and keep coming back as we continue to update the site!


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Policy Updates

New York – Major Investment in Dairy Farms
In January 2014, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced a commitment of nearly $21 million to create new economic opportunities for New York’s dairy farmers by helping them to produce renewable energy and improve their business operations. The Anaerobic Digester Biogas-to-Electricity Program (ADG) will provide over $20 million to farms, food processing manufacturers and municipal wastewater sites for up to $2 million per project. The funding will help cover costs for the installation of anaerobic digester technology that produces renewable biogas used to produce electricity and heat from organic wastes.

California – Highlighting Opportunities for Dairy Digester Systems
While not finalized, California Governor Edmund Brown included $20 million from the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund to promote GHG emission reductions in the agricultural sector. The fund would be managed by the Department of Food and Agriculture to support projects that reduce GHG emissions from the agriculture sector by “capturing greenhouse gases, harnessing greenhouse gases as a renewable bioenergy source, improving agricultural practices and promoting low carbon fuels, agricultural energy, and operational efficiency.” The budget identifies $12 million for the Dairy Digester Research and Development Program to facilitate the design and construction of dairy digester systems.  The acknowledgment of dairy digester systems and the allocation of funding is positive reinforcement that states are seeing the benefits of methane emission reductions and harnessing for biogas. Review Governor Brown’s full budget proposal and track the status of the budget.

Massachusetts – Feasibility Study Funding Source
The Massachusetts Clean Energy Center (MASS CEC) is accepting applications for Feasibility Study Grants under the Commonwealth Organics-to-Energy program. The Commonwealth Organics-to-Energy program supports the use of anaerobic digestion and other technologies that convert source-separated organic wastes into electricity and thermal energy. Public and private sector entities are eligible to apply. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis through April 30, 2014, or until funds are expended. Visit the website for more information or to apply for the program if you are a Massachusetts entity.

2014 Farm Bill – Extending Investment in Agricultural Renewable Energy
In February 2014, the U.S. Farm bill was finalized. While the new bill includes a substantial reduction in annual funding, the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) remains the cornerstone program of the Energy Title. In recent years, REAP has provided significant funding for farm-based anaerobic digestion systems. While there are several changes to REAP, annual funding will continue to support digester development. Visit the U.S. Department of Agriculture website for more information about the 2014 Farm Bill.


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Global Methane Initiative

Global Methane Initiative logo

2014 Meetings
The GMI Agriculture Subcommittee co-hosted a biogas best practices workshop and tri-sector subcommittee meeting with GMI’s Municipal Solid Waste and Municipal Wastewater subcommittees, on March 12‒14 in Florianopolis, Brazil. The Subcommittee would like to thank our colleagues in Brazil for co-hosting this event and to all those who attended. Please visit the GMI website in upcoming weeks to review the presentations from the workshop.

Looking Forward
GMI is planning an All-Partnership meeting for early 2015 to celebrate the 10-year anniversary of the founding of the Partnership (2004‒2014) and showcase its accomplishments. The date and location are still being finalized – stay tuned for this announcement!

Visit the GMI website for more information about the Partnership and GMI’s Agriculture Subcommittee. If you have questions or comments, please contact asg@globalmethane.org.  


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Upcoming Events

Bio Energy Business Conference
June 3, 2014
Madison, Wisconsin
Interested in innovative organic waste management technology solutions, recent and future market developments, and new business opportunities? Join the German American Chambers of Commerce and high-ranking bio energy experts from both Germany and the United States to discuss market conditions and industry trends. This year’s topic is Turn Waste Streams into Revenue and the conference will explore the utilization of organic waste streams from farms, food processing facilities, municipalities, and wastewater treatment plants among others.

Renewable Energy from Waste Conference
November 18–20, 2014
San Jose, California
This event brings together those operating a wide range of waste conversion technologies, including gasification, anaerobic digestion, refuse-derived fuel and plastics to oil to discuss everything from the economics of waste conversion, operational advice and case studies to the legislative climate for conversion technologies. Visit the website for additional information and opportunities.

For additional events, please check the AgSTAR Event page.


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