A Ferndale company has come up with a way for farms to better manage soil nutrients, and it is getting a chance to prove it locally with a well-known Lynden dairy.
Listen in as KGMI’s Dillon Honcoop interviews our Director of Research and Technology, Dr. Craig Frear, on the fine solids separation system we installed at Edaleen Dairy, Western Washington’s first phosphorous recovery unit, which will benefit both dairies and our watersheds.
Thanks to Joel Hastings, Publisher of Dairy Business & Holstein World, for covering the announcement of our launch of Western Washington’s first fine solids separator at Edaleen Dairy.
Washington State’s watersheds scored a win this week as agricultural waste company, Regenis, installed the first phosphorous recovery system west of the Cascades at Edaleen Dairy in Lynden.
This fine solids separation system, called a Dissolved Air Floatation (DAF) unit, removes solids in manure wastewater through a system that injects the tank with air bubbles and organic polymer, causing the solids to float to the surface where they can be skimmed off, dewatered, and stored. (more…)
MONROE — They were pioneers when the sky was falling.
Back in 2008, when the housing and stock markets were crashing, the family farmers at Werkhoven Dairy in Monroe took a huge leap of faith—one that carried them to some nearby land and a project/process that would ultimately help the dairy, the state, the Native American Tulalip tribes, and the environment. Read the rest of the article…
Last week, California Democrats and Republicans set aside political differences, decisively pushing forward a bill to help fight global climate change.
As part of the bill, more revenue will be available to support methane capture through building anaerobic digesters. Such agricultural projects are key in the bill’s strategy to curb greenhouse gas emissions from the state’s prominent dairy industry.
Under Assembly Bill 398,California’s cap-and-trade program is extended for an additional ten years–through 2030. This program, which sells mandatory pollution permits to industries, uses the proceeds to fight climate change on a variety of fronts. Because of California’s enormous agricultural sector, biogas and dairy digester projects will play a big role in these emission reduction efforts.
California Governor, Jerry Brown, signed the bill into law earlier today, joined by former California Governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger.
This follows a floor vote of two-thirds support from both the State Senate and State Assembly last week, including both the overwhelming majority Democrats in the legislature along with a number of Republicans who represent agriculturally dominant districts in the Central Valley.
Prior to the bill’s passage, funding for all emission reduction strategies beyond 2020 were in doubt, exemplified by the 2016 legislature reducing a proposed $500 million in cap-and-trade appropriation over the next five years for dairy digesters to $35 million with no long term commitment beyond 2017: a fiscal reality given purchases for pollution permits had gone from robust to rare as large polluters and carbon financial markets shied away from their uncertain long term value.
Now, with extension of the cap-and-trade program through 2030 providing certainty for industries and carbon trading markets, an influx of expanded funding for agricultural projects (including anaerobic digesters) from permit proceeds are expected track upwards again.
State agencies have projected a need for 300 dairy digesters by 2030 to meet California’s emissions reduction targets. With the California Department of Farms and Agriculture (CDFA) offering each dairy up to $3 million in grant money to help offset some digester development costs, the 2016 appropriation would have provided funding for about ten digesters. With the 2030 extension, the state can now claim the initial emission reduction targets passed in 2006 under the landmark legislation AB 32 are grounded in reality.
More good news unfolded for the biogas industry in Washington, D.C. last week as the House of Representatives’ answered the Senate’s Agriculture Environmental Stewardship Act with a new companion bill (H.R.2853) to help streamline passage.
Just like the Senate bill (S.988), the House bill would extend much-needed Investment Tax Credits (ITC’s) to biogas businesses and technologies through 2021. Of note: verbiage in the House bill is essentially the same as in the Senate bill.
Anaerobic digester builders, operators, and manure resource recovery initiatives could all apply. If passed, the bills together would provide a 30% tax credit for those biogas endeavors that qualify, aiding them with their upfront capital costs, which are often millions of dollars.
Patrick Serfass, Executive Director of the American Biogas Council (ABC), also expressed his praise. “We thank Congressmen Reed, Kind and the other co-sponsors of this bill for recognizing the far-reaching benefits of sustainable farming where organic material and nutrients should be recycled to create beneficial soil products, baseload renewable energy and jobs,” he said in the ABC’s official press release.
Hand in hand, both bills will together create better incentives for innovators and farmers in pursuit of successful biogas installations. Without these incentives, progress in biogas could very well flounder.
President and CEO of the National Milk Producers Federation Jim Mulhern added: “By creating incentives to make biogas and manure resource recovery technologies more affordable, the Agricultural Environmental Stewardship Act will encourage more widespread use of manure digesters.
“This benefits society by decreasing nutrient runoff in waterways, decreasing farm odors, and improving water quality.”
Regenis would like to applaud House Representative Ron Kind (D-WI) and Tom Reed (R-NY) for sponsoring the bill, as well as our home state members of Congress, Representatives Susan DelBene (D-WA), and Dan Newhouse (R-WA) for co-sponsoring its introduction. “These bills signify a largely bi-partisan effort and hopeful movement towards cleaner air, cleaner water, and cleaner energy throughout the country from the agricultural world,” said company Vice President, Bryan VanLoo.
How does biogas create clean air, clean water, and clean energy? The ultimate goal of the biogas industry: to create clean, renewable energy from harmful greenhouse gas waste emissions produced by dairy agriculture in the country.
Methane—largely emitted by agricultural cattle and dairy livestock—makes up a hefty helping of greenhouse gases contributing to global climate change today. It is also 84 times more potent in its atmosphere-warming impacts than carbon dioxide (CO₂) according to the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF).
Anaerobic dairy digester biogas technology traps methane, transports it to a facility, and processes it into natural gas renewable energy and fertilizer. Further, these systems assist with the processing of dairy manure—also responsible for methane emissions—into more bioavailable forms for use as agricultural fertilizer.
Nutrients are also more successfully separated from raw manure material in this process, ensuring that a glut of nutrients avoids groundwater or waterways. Buildup of nutrients from overfertilization has been shown to be harmful to local ecosystems, including humans and wildlife alike.
It’s been said many times that Washington, D.C. is full of hot air. Last week, though, a group of biogas industry leaders including our own Director of Research and Technology, Dr. Craig Frear, was in the nation’s capital to meet with lawmakers and to demonstrate how an endless supply of hot emissions (from cows, not politicians) can be captured and turned into one of America’s cleanest sources of baseload energy—renewable natural gas.
“While most methane captured from anaerobic digesters is used to generate electricity, it’s becoming more viable to turn that biogas into renewable natural gas (RNG), which can be pumped into our existing natural gas infrastructure to reduce the nation’s carbon emissions even further,” Frear said.
That was the takeaway message at the RNG Forum hosted by the Coalition for Renewable Natural Gas and the American Biogas Council, which included biogas industry members and government agencies overseeing energy and agricultural policies at the federal level. An overflow crowd attended the half-day event, attesting to the growing importance of RNG within the biogas sector.
Following the conference, Frear–as part of a delegation of Board of Directors of the American Biogas Council—spent two days on Capitol Hill sharing that message with the new administration as well as over 20 members of Congress and their policy staffs as part of a primer on how federal policy is integral to the success of the biogas industry.
“Congress, along with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will be making some key decisions over the next few months,” Frear said, “and stability is critical for the industry right now.”
Frear cited protecting the already enacted Renewable Fuel Standard from major changes as well as the Renewable Identification Number (RIN) pathway, which allows biofuels to be tracked from production to trading as keys for the industry during the 115th Congress.
One change Frear did say he would like to see happen before the next Congress is seated in 2019 is an extension of the Investment Tax Credit so private investors can take advantage of the biogas to RNG production opportunities much in the same way other clean energy technologies like wind and solar energy development are encouraged through the federal tax code.
“Every electron created in the biogas sector is one less electron that has to be generated from dirty fossil fuels,” Frear said. “We know this is the future of energy production in the United States, and we want biogas to be recognized as an equally important fuel source because it doesn’t require the sun to shine or the wind to blow to keep the lights on. Additionally, its flexibility to be used as either electricity on the transmission grid or clean natural gas delivered through pipelines translates into greater energy security for our nation,” Frear said.
After several weeks of deliberation, the California Department of Food and Agriculture’s (CDFA) Dairy Digester Research and Development Program (DDRDP) has reopened its request for applications to its dairy digester grant program.
The request more-or-less remains exactly the same as the one made in March 2017, with a few small differences. Total funds allotted will still range between $29 and $36 million total, with the $3 million maximum being awarded to each project remaining unchanged.
DIFFERENCES FROM MARCH 2017 REQUEST FOR PROPOSALS
In addition to the $3 million maximum awarded to each possible project, a supplementary $9-$16 million in incentives may be provided through the Alternative Manure Management Program to support non-digester practices that reduce methane emissions from dairy and livestock operations, and further relieve the financial burden of ongoing or new dairy digesters.
According to the request, this incentive has been included to ensure awarding of funds only to the highest-quality projects resulting in accurately verifiable and quantifiably beneficial greenhouse gas emission reductions.
Logically since deliberation has pushed the grant request back by almost a month, the duration terms of the grant have changed. Grant funds cannot be expended before October 1, 2017, or after September 30, 2019—as opposed to before August 1st 2017, or after June 30th 2019, as outlined in the March proposal request.
PROJECTS INELIGIBLE FOR GRANT MONEY
Under the revised rules, neither upgrades to existing digesters nor projects to fund dairy operations that would increase their greenhouse gas emissions overall–even with a digester—will be eligible for grant funding. Additionally, CDFA will not fund any equipment or activities that may receive funding from the California Public Utilities Commission such as interconnection costs.
In an important caveat for potential digester development, the agency said it will allow funds to be used for biogas conditioning and clean-up costs, which could help biogas from dairies meet California cleanliness standards for injection into the state’s gas pipeline system.
New dates for review processes and announcements of award funding have been released. The review process will happen through July and August of 2017 while the announcements for which projects will receive award funding are expected at the end of September 2017.
NEW GREENHOUSE GAS EMISSION REDUCTION CALCULATION REQUIREMENTS
In the March 2017 proposal request, timelines for which applicants must calculate and provide their greenhouse gas emission (GHG) calculations were changed or further outlined and specified:
- Total project emission reductions must be calculated and provided for over the next 10 years, rather than just over one year.
- Projected GHG reduction per unit if energy-corrected milk (ECM) must be calculated for over the next 10 years, which is more specific than in the previous proposal request.
- Projected GHG reduction per dollar of 2017 DDRDP grant money must be calculated for over the next 10 years, which was not specified in the March 2017 grant request.
- Projected GHG reduction per dollar from the total Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund must be calculated and provided for over the next 10 years, which was also not specified previously.
ADDED LINE-ITEM OF ALLOWABLE COSTS COVERED BY GRANTS
The CDFA also announced that it will allow costs incurred by designing and engineering contractors or consultants, provided that the costs from these contractors/consultants make up at least 5% of the total grant amount requested.
Further, the costs of pipeline interconnection or equipment for purposes of processing biogas to pipelines were made allowable as well.
NEW PERIOD FOR QUESTIONS AND COMMENTS
Questions and comments about the grant proposal request will be released and publicly posted on the DDRDP website with a deadline of June 14, 2017.