Anaerobic digestion projects move forward

By Ryan C. Christiansen
Several large- and small-scale anaerobic digestion projects are in the planning stages. Here's a brief rundown of what Biomass Magazine has come across recently:
Tiru, a subsidiary of Electricité of France, plans to begin construction of a large-scale anaerobic digestion plant in Bourg-en-Bresse, France, in March, according to Belgium-based Organic Waste Systems NV, the company that will supply the technology for the plant. The facility will process 90,000 tons of mixed household waste and 15,000 tons of green waste yearly, producing 15 million kilowatt-hours of electricity. The plant will use OWS' Dranco thermophilic anaerobic fermentation, and its Sordisep sorting, digestion and separation technologies.

Environmental Power Corp. in Tarrytown, N.Y., along with its subsidiary Microgy Inc., has received $26.1 million from the California Debt Limit Allocation Committee to help finance its Bar 20 renewable natural gas project in Fresno, Calif., according to the company. The project will consist of large-scale anaerobic digesters that will process manure from two adjacent dairies, and other food and agricultural waste materials, to produce 601 billion British thermal units of renewable natural gas per year to be conditioned and sold to Pacific Gas & Electric Co.

The Idaho Public Utilities Commission has approved Idaho Power Co.'s application to purchase electricity from the Big Sky West Dairy Digester Generation Facility, which is being built at Big Sky Dairy near Gooding, Idaho, according to the commission. The facility will be owned and operated by a partnership between Dean Foods Co. and AgPower Partners LLC, and will supply 1.5 megawatts of electricity to the power company. Approximately 4,700 dairy cows at the farm will supply manure for the digester, which is scheduled to begin operations Feb. 14.

Bach Digester LLC in Dorchester, Wis., will receive $800,000 in loans and grants from the USDA Rural Development's Renewable Energy Systems and Energy Efficiency Improvements Program to build a 300 kilowatt-hour anaerobic digester. The facility would convert manure from 1,200 dairy cows into electricity to be sold to Dairyland Power Co-op in LaCrosse, Wis., according to the USDA. Bach Digester was awarded an $180,000 grant through the USDA program for this same project in 2004.

The city of Gaylord, Minn., has received a $7,550 grant from the West Central Region Clean Energy Resource Team to study the feasibility of building an anaerobic digester to convert local and regional organic waste into methane biogas. Short Elliott Hendrickson Inc., an engineering firm based in St. Paul, Minn., has been contracted to determine the availability of feedstock, as well as regional interest for the digester and biogas, according to Mark Broses, an engineer for the firm.

The South San Joaquin Irrigation District, which provides irrigation water for the agricultural areas surrounding the cities of Escalon, Ripon and Manteca, Calif., has begun a feasibility study to determine whether the district should build an anaerobic digester. The facility would assist area dairy farmers, and produce and sell electricity, according to district General Manager Jeff Shields.

The Lake Champlain Restoration Association in Bridport, Vt., received $10,000 from Central Vermont Public Service to study the feasibility of harvesting and transporting the nuisance aquatic weed Eurasian watermilfoil from Lake Champlain, and putting it into an anaerobic digester, according to Chip Morgan, president of the association.