Thursday, March 19, 2015
Hogfarm Waste and Biogas Generators Anyone?
Besides the fact that Wind Power, solar, and small hydro are some exciting RE technologies, there is the question of intermittency, you know, variability. Biogas generation can solve that. Moreover, I was reading about Hog Farm Waste again recently, huge pools of stopped up animal manure in toxic pools, just because they are left sitting there. It should be no problem, not least of which is the same solution as for intermittency, biogas. I was reading about one company, Midwest Biogas, from 2009. Alas, nothing since then, so the prize goes to Avant Energy. Europeans, especially the Germans, have been doing it for more than 30 years, I'm happy to say. The US has been big on cell phones, iPads, and tablets, all toxic and slave-labor made. A few years ago, Greenfreeze ozone-safe refrigeration technology was finally had bans lifted. Now there's biogas. That is some of the scope of the US's insanity, but Corporate Executive imperialism and oligarchy have only severely slowed Climate Change ecological response. Slowly, some good news has appeared. -------- The Legacy of Slavery: What Inequality and Industrial Hog Operations Have in Common By Laura Orlando The location of North Carolina's industrial hog operations in 2014 overlaid on the density of North Carolina's enslaved people in the 1860s. Steve Wing American agriculture is not one story, but many. Millions of animals living in confined spaces as part of large scale, market-directed production—industrial agribusiness—is one of the more horrific ones. For people that live near industrial hog operations, where hundreds or thousands of hogs are raised in a confined space, with open pits of urine and feces and regular disposal these wastes near their homes, it becomes a story about health and quality of life. Steve Wing, an epidemiologist at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill shows that it’s also about environmental injustice. Research by Wing and Jill Johnston, a UNC postdoctoral scholar, documents that most of the 9.6 million hogs in North Carolina live in concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) in the eastern part of the state where they disproportionately impact African Americans, Hispanics and Native Americans. Their 2014 study found that the swine CAFOs—also known as industrial hog operations (IHOs)—permitted by the North Carolina Division of Water Quality are located in counties with high non-white populations. Duplin County, on the southeastern coastal plain, is home to 2.35 million hogs distributed among 530 hog operations. In Duplin, 43 percent of the population is non-white. One of the poorest counties in North Carolina, Duplin has a poverty rate of 23.6 percent. Wing and Johnston do not focus directly on issues of wealth and poverty in their study, but they observe that IHOs are “relatively absent from low-poverty White communities.” After all, no industrial hog operation is located next to North Carolina’s Executive Mansion. Over the past two decades, the number of U.S. hog farms declined by more than 70 percent while hog production rose by more than 30 percent, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. In 2007, 97 percent of hogs were raised in places with over 500 animals. Three-quarters of hogs sold for market are from “specialized operations” with corporate production contracts that buy 30 to 80 pound pigs from other “specialized operations” and finish them to 240 to 270 pounds, slaughter weight. The people that manage these operations are not called farmers: they are “contract growers.” Like other U.S. corporate agribusinesses, industrial hog operations are heavily supported by state and national policies. Larger operations are more profitable than smaller ones because the pigs are treated as commodities, their feed is mechanized, and the cost of environmental and public health damage is not considered in the balance sheet. The human and environmental costs Water and air pollution from the confinement of thousands of swine endanger the health of people living nearby. Industrial hog operations pollute the air with a complex mixture of particulates (e.g., fecal matter and endotoxins), vapors and gases (e.g., ammonia and hydrogen sulfide)—all of which have negative health effects. Add odor from feces, not only a nuisance but also the cause of health problems, and you get sick people. Wing and colleagues have recorded stress, anxiety, mucous membrane irritation, respiratory conditions, reduced lung function and acute blood pressure elevation.... (read the rest at the main article....) ----------- Here is a fine, recent overview, with a confirmation of the Hometown plant as the first successful electrical generating plant in the US....apparently, the efforts by Midwest Biogas did not go through somehow.... original article Market improving for waste-to-energy projects in Minnesota Posted on 09/16/2014 by Frank Jossi The Hometown Bioenergy plant near Le Sueur, Minnesota, can produce up to 8 MW of electricity. (Photo ©Le Sueur News-Herald, used with permission) With the help of some aggressive bugs that thrive on a diet of waste and manure, the $45 million Hometown Bioenergy plant in Le Sueur, Minnesota has reached 60 percent capacity since opening in December of 2013. “It’s a biological process, it’s not like you can flip the switch,” said Kelsey Dillon, the vice president of bioenergy for Avant Energy Inc., which manages the plant. “There’s definitely an art to getting the bugs acclimated and getting them tuned up to digest this material at higher and higher strengths, if you will, we’re still in that ramp-up period, but it’s going well.” The anaerobic digester, capable of producing 8 megawatts of electricity, is one of the largest facilities of its kind in the country. It sits on a 35 acre site and draws customers from a 60 mile radius, including sweet corn canning operators and other vegetable processors, who bring their waste and pay tipping fees to have Hometown take care of it, she said. A subsidiary of the 12-member Minnesota Municipal Power Agency, Hometown is one of a growing number of industrial scale digesters either under construction and in the planning stages in Minnesota and around the country. The Port Authority of St. Paul, for example, has made investments in nine large-scale anaerobic digester projects in St. Paul, South St. Paul, Chaska, East Grand Forks, Austin and Becker. They range in size from $10 million to $35 million, said Peter Klein, the Port Authority’s vice president of finance. The Central Region office of Natural Systems Utilities LLC will soon announce two industrial-scale anaerobic digester projects in the Midwest valued at between $14 million and $40 million, one that will be located in Minnesota, said Ryan Brandt, executive vice president. “We’re starting to see the market shift to favoring projects in the $10 million to $50 million range, while the projects $10 million and less are harder to raise capital for,” he said. Several trends are making for a more attractive market for digesters, among them a desire to reduce the level of waste going to landfills, to produce more renewable energy and to create value out of agricultural waste, he said. Minnesota’s food industry needs disposal options and anaerobic digesters provide an answer, said Brandt. What differentiates these new projects from the kind of farm-based digesters that employ manure to produce methane is that the larger operations rely on food and agricultural waste, he said. In some cases the digesters will be located near food and beverage manufacturers that have a steady of waste available for disposal. “Europe has had this for decades but now we’re just catching wind and seeing how waste is being redefined for us,” Brandt said. “We’re seeing a market shift to ban organics from coming into landfills, which offers opportunities for anaerobic digesters to handle that waste.” The Minnesota Project in a major study on farm digesters reported that the United States has 126 anaerobic operations producing electricity. Hometown Bioenergy is one of the first, if not the first, to produce electricity from waste in Minnesota. In some cases biogas is being used to replace natural gas, too. The Metropolitan Council Environmental Services added a solids processing facility at Blue Lake Wastewater Treatment Plant in Shakopee that opened in 2012. By being able to replace as much as 80 percent of the plant’s natural gas needs with methane biogas the Met Council saw a savings of $500,000 annually. The biogas facility also fuels hot water boilers and provides other advantages that reduce the need for natural gas purchases. Other market drivers Additional factors fueling biodigester growth include regulations, tax credits, a push by the White House, and aggressive marketing by three German companies which see a rich American market, said Paul Greene, director of the American Biogas Council. The federal government in August issued a new “biogas roadmap,” he said, that calls for creation of 11,000 more digesters, up from the 2,116 that exist today. By reaching that total the nation could see enough methane to power three million homes and fuel 2.5 million vehicles. Digesters are taking off because “it’s a good greenhouse gas story, a good renewable energy story, a good nutrient management story a good green energy story, so that has all helped,” he said. Several Northeast states have implemented new regulations banning food waste from landfill sites, Greene said, with Massachusetts’ new law starting in October. New York City businesses that produce more than one ton of food waste a week must divert that to something other than a landfill, he said. Larger producers, such as hotels, can no longer send their food waste to landfill sites, leaving a potential for entrepreneurs to come in with an anaerobic digester solution. Agencies in the Northeast, he added, are offering financial encouragement for developers. Anheuser-Busch, for example, uses a “beneficial energy recycling system” that takes brewery waste and makes methane gas that is reused in plants for heating, he said. The St. Paul Port Authority has invested $1.3 million in digesters that began when the RockTenn paper recycling plant was threatened with closure, said Klein. Although he points out that RockTenn will not use the biogas from digesters directly, the Port Authority will receive carbon credits while “producing an economic benefit” to those communities. For now, however, the investments have yielded only one completed project, Klein said. Full Circle Organics in Becker has been operating since June and collected several thousand tons of organic material, according to an article in the St. Cloud Times. The carbon credit market may be struggling, but the Port Authority believes it will rebound, he said. In the meantime, food processors would benefit by having anaerobic digesters and be more competitive by having to pay less for their energy, he said. “The country has to look at what Europe is doing,” he said. “There is a value to it if you can separate waste out — you can produce energy from it. If you just put it in a landfill it will create methane, anyway, which is a harmful greenhouse gas. The landfill companies have these collection systems but they don’t really collect all the gas.” The Port Authority has offered a proposal to the state to create a state-sponsored fund to promote $80 million in investment in five large scale anaerobic digesters at wastewater treatment facilities. Although it has yet to pass the legislature, Klein said the effort will continue. ------------ Midwest Biogas to use ethanol byproducts, animal waste By Anna Austin Minnesota-based Midwest Biogas LLC is greeting the new year with plans to construct a biogas plant in northern Iowa, a project that will mark the company's renewable energy debut. appears not to have been completed ..... (read the rest at the main article site) (see also below, Mid-size Dairy Farms) ---------- Biogas comes of age As biogas becomes big business, it’s creating new opportunities for all involved in managing food waste. Iyad Omari from London-based cleantech investor, Frog Capital, and Peter Stepany, Chief Technology Officer of German biogas specialists, agri.capital, set out the choices facing biogas companies and the challenges that need to be met. by Iyad Omari & Peter Stepany A unique source of renewable energy Despite the recent UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen showing how hard it is to build an international consensus, the worldwide drive to find clean, renewable energy sources remains undimmed. This isn’t simply an issue of global warming. Many countries are also keen to cut their reliance on fossil fuels due to concerns over security of supply. Germany has been a beacon of sustainable energy practice in Europe for 20 years, with a strong regulatory framework to encourage clean energy production. agri.capital is one of the success stories to emerge from Germany’s green wave. Since 2004 it has set up around 50 plants across Germany, Austria and Italy to generate biogas – gas extracted from organic matter including organic waste. The company is the largest biogas producer in Europe and the huge demand for clean energy looks set to underpin its rapid growth for years to come. To date agri.capital’s model has relied on the use of purpose-grown crops as fuel. But as the biogas sector becomes big business, it is creating a wealth of opportunities for profitable partnerships with those who manage an alternative fuel – food waste. To understand these opportunities, it helps to get a taste of biogas production and the complex choices it offers. The recent investment in agri.capital by London-based cleantech specialist, Frog Capital, was driven by a belief that biogas has unique advantages. It uses well-proven technology and combines strong green credentials (e.g. its ability to recover energy from biodegradable waste, thus diverting it from landfill) with reliability and ease of storage. These are characteristics that other renewable energies such as solar, wind and wave power find it hard to match. A technology whose time has come For many, Germany is the model to follow when it comes to biogas. The German Renewable Energy Act (known as EEG) gives biogas producers a lot of comfort. Producers who burn biogas to generate electricity for the grid earn a tariff that’s guaranteed for 20 years from the plant’s inception. This certainty helps producers obtain the 10-year finance that plants need and supports long-term contracts with feedstock suppliers. Although most of Germany’s biogas producers currently convert it to electricity, they also have the option of pumping a purified version of the gas directly into the national network. The tariffs for this aren’t guaranteed but they’re not entirely free-moving either; so much gas is ultimately burnt to generate electricity that its price tends to move in line with electricity prices, creating a level of predictability that facilitates long-term gas supply contracts. Deciding how to use biogas from AD Several factors have to be weighed up when deciding how to use the biogas. Injecting gas into the grid demands complex processes for scrubbing it. On the other hand, burning it to create electricity involves running an engine and finding a customer for the excess heat emitted by the process; without a customer for the heat, a lot of the primary energy value is wasted. So far most sites established by agri.capital burn gas to create electricity because they’ve been able to identify local clients for heat, e.g. commercial businesses that operate drying processes. But the number of customers for year-round heat is limited and many are already satisfied. Increasingly, therefore, new plants will inject gas into the mains. Getting the right mix of inputs A fundamental decision for a biogas producer is which feedstock to use. Put simply, this comes down to a choice between purpose-grown food crops (biomass) and organic waste generated by households and businesses such as food waste. For a biogas operator running many plants, an ‘ideal’ feedstock has three characteristics: homogenous – the content is consistent and produces stable outputs and that doesn’t upset the bacteria used high energy density – many cubic metres of biogas are produced per tonne of feedstock no pollutants – it does not contain unwanted elements that will be difficult and costly to dispose of at the end of the process. Under the German framework, each plant needs to specify upfront the broad category of feedstock that it is going to use (e.g. food waste or biomass). agri.capital typically uses feedstock that is roughly 70 % biomass and 30 % animal manure. The crops have high gas yields of around 200 m³ per tonne. The manure’s gas yield is only a tenth of this level, but it contributes useful minerals and makes the overall mix malleable. The feedstock mix also enables it to agree long-term contracts with farmers for the supply of crops and manure, which provides much-needed certainty for everyone.....(go to main article site -------- Energy: Biogas / Methane Digesters New Digester Opportunities — Studying Digester Feasibility for Mid-Sized Dairy Farms Anaerobic digestion technology holds many benefits for Minnesota farms. It has the potential to reduce environmental problems associated with animal agriculture and provide economic benefits to farms and rural communities. It can reduce odor, pathogens, greenhouse gas emissions, costs for bedding by utilizing recycled solids and adds value by producing renewable energy which provides distribution generation of electricity. However, most of the commercially developed anaerobic digester technology has been proven to be most economically feasible on dairy farms that have 300 or more cows. But according to the 2002 Census of Agriculture, 96% of Minnesota's dairy farms have 200 cows or less. This brings into question if there is a possibility that 96% of Minnesota's dairy farms can receive the same economic and environmental benefits from anaerobic digester technology that larger farms can? Through funding provided by AgStar Fund for Rural America, the Minnesota Project was able to contract with Philip Goodrich to complete a preliminary report assessing existing digester systems appropriate for small to mid dairy farm size. Mr. Goodrich has over 30 years of experience in the field of anaerobic digester systems. The report he prepared contains information about six digester models that could be applied for use on small to mid-sized dairy farms. Each model contains information dealing with the schematics of the system, an explanation of how the system functions, environmental benefits, and lessons learned from other similar digesters. Capital costs for the installation of the digesters and yearly costs are presented. (Find more at the original article site) -------- Then there is Peter TAglia, who seems to have made a nice bit of work in Wisconsin a few years back now for the American Biogas Council -------- More information on Midwest Biogas from 2009.. Biogas plant coming to Welcome 0 Posted: Tuesday, September 1, 2009 9:06 pm | Updated: 1:04 am, Tue Sep 2, 2014. By Brian Ojanpa The tiny town of Welcome is hoping to reap big benefits from barnyard manure. Gaylord-based bioenergy development company Midwest Biogas plans to build a plant near the 700-resident community that turns hog and chicken waste into energy for electricity and natural gas. Midwest Biogas President Nick Nelson said the bioenergy park would be the first of several the company plans to build throughout the upper Midwest. “We need to crawl before we can walk,” Nelson said of the start-up venture that would be the first plant of its type in Minnesota. .... Midwest Biogas will use Schmack BioEnergy as its anaerobic digestion technology supplier and is working to secure U.S. Department of Agriculture loan guarantees for the projects. original article