WERF report analyzes barriers to biogas

By Staff | October 30, 2012

The Water Environment Research Foundation has released a report identifying the barriers to biogas use for energy at wastewater treatment facilities. According to the report, inadequate payback and the lack of available capital are the dominant hindrances.

While 43 percent of wastewater treatment facilities employ anaerobic digestion systems, only 8 percent of that 43 percent use the resulting biogas to generate electric or thermal energy. The U.S. EPA Combined Heat and Power Partnership estimates that the amount of wasted biogas could supply an additional 3 million MWh of power per year.

The report found that the largest barriers to developing power generation at these sites are related to higher priority demands on capital and perceptions that the economics don’t justify investment. Other barriers include regulatory policy factors and human decision-making factors. According to the WERF, better cost- and benefit-estimation methods, legislation to assist in CHP financing, and state renewable portfolio standards could help provide incentive for CHP installation at these facilities.